BUSINESSES in Wickwar say they have been left out of pocket due to the main route through the village being closed for three weeks.

Bristol Water is replacing a water main which is prone to bursting in the one-lane section of the High Street from the Buthay pub to the junction with the B4059 on The Downs.

But the closure, which started last week, has forced some shopkeepers to shut their doors altogether and others say they are losing money every day.

Peter McAfee, who owns the Spar franchise, told the Gazette: "We rely heavily on passing trade and although August is normally a quiet time for us we are not this quiet.

"On Monday (August 6) we took £660 compared to last Monday (July 30) when we took £935. That third is the money we live on and taking that away hurts."

Mr McAfee said he had pre-warned that the road closure would be imposed, unlike on a previous occasion, so at least they could order less stock during the roadworks.

His wife Julia said: "This is forcing us to cling on and we are already clinging on at the moment. So the worry is something like this could finish us off."

Wickwar Coffee Shop has posted a notice on its window that it will be closed until further notice, due to the roadworks.

Tim Wilcox, co-director of Wilcox Garage, said although the firm had sold an average number of cars during the works, their customers were struggling to get to the repair centre.

He said: "It has affected us but we have been here a long time so our regular customers and people who find us on the internet are still coming.

"We have noticed a slight difference in passing trade but the main problem has been customers coming from Wotton-under-Edge can’t get to us. They are having to go round all the back roads, taking them an extra 25 minutes to get here. It is a bit of a pain really."

Hairdresser Robyn White, from High Street Salon, said water supplies were being switched off periodically but so far Bristol Water had kept the company informed.

"They have accommodated us by turning off the water when we are not open so it is not as drastic as it could have been," she said. "Luckily we run on appointments but the High Street is definitely a lot quieter and our customers have had trouble getting here."

A diversion route takes motorists from the B4509 to Wotton Road, through Cromhall and Rangeworthy to Iron Acton via Peg Hill in Yate and back on to the Sodbury Road to Wickwar. Bristol Water is funding a shuttle bus linking Wickwar with Yate.

A spokesman said: "This main is in need of replacement as it has suffered from frequent bursts.

"We apologise for the inconvenience the closure will cause, but stress this is essential work to ensure the water supply for the area."

The work is expected to take two weeks and South Gloucestershire Council will then resurface High Street meaning the road will be partially closed for another week.