BUSINESSES have expressed concern over the closure of the coast road at Abbotsbury which began today.

Wessex Water will be replacing the road main which has burst around 30 times in the last 15 years and is in urgent need of replacement.

The work in West Street, Market Street and Rodden Row will now mean a lengthy diversion via the A354 and A35 and the road closure could last up to three months.

Local businesses are keen to highlight that many establishments in the village are open as usual despite the works.

Wessex Water is providing a shuttle bus service to ensure residents remain connected to the village, which is situated at the village car park in Rodden Row. There is also a separate shuttle bus which will run to and from the Sub Tropical Gardens.

A spokesperson for Wessex Water confirmed work had begun today and is going to plan, and all shuttle bus services are running as normal.

Graham Roper, owner of the Swan Inn pub in Abbotsbury, said the closure will affect his trade but welcomed the timing of the plans.

He added: “We will be affected by the works because there’s now no traffic coming past us and that is our trade.

“The water works do need to be done and at least they were not carried out during the summer because that would have been worse for our trade.

“Wessex Water has offered compensation for businesses that really struggle during the closures so the financial situation for many looks a bit brighter.”

Colin Boxshall, landlord at the Ilchester Arms on Market Street in Abbotsbury, said that while the water works have to be done, road closure signs are deterring potential customers.

He added: “Businesses here are still open and people can get to us via the Bridport end of the village - but road closure signs put up today are putting people off.

“We’ve had no trade today at all and sadly I think that’s unlikely to change; the only people who may visit are walkers passing by but recent weather conditions also mean people are staying inside.

“I would like to advise everyone that most businesses in Abbotsbury will be open as normal throughout the works.”

Wessex Water said the company is committed to completing the work in a way that keeps disruption to a minimum.

To complete the work quickly they will be using ‘no-dig’ techniques where possible, which will reduce the number of excavations that need to be made in the highway.

A spokesperson added: “We have personally spoken to traders in Abbotsbury and ‘businesses open as usual’ signs are in place, and provided free bus services for residents, visitors and shoppers.

“Where businesses can show they have experienced particular financial hardship we will look into claims for compensation.

“We encourage people to continue to support local businesses while we carry out essential water main improvements that will benefit residents and businesses for many years to come.”