TRADERS in Culcheth say their business is being badly affected by council bridge works which are due to take until Christmas to complete.

The work, to strengthen a bridge on Wilton Lane, started at the end of October and will run until the festive period.

But dozens of business owners in the village say they are already feeling the effects as shoppers, especially those coming from Lowton and Golborne, are being put off by a long diversion.

Naomi Simpson owns Forget-Me-Not children’s book shop in the CPS centre in Culcheth.

She says in the first week, her business was down by more than £1,000. She gathered with dozens of other shopkeepers and businessmen in the village centre to protest about the works on Thursday.

She added: “We have not received a letter from the council saying this is due to take place.

“Why not have it in January. Businesses are really struggling at the moment anyway and this is the last thing we need.

“People are being put off because the diversions sends them down small roads and they think they are lost.”

Chris Vobe, borough councillor, added: “No one disputes that the repairs are vital, but the council has a duty to ensure that businesses are not adversly affected - particularly in these difficult times.

“Residents were initially told that this work would be carried out in stages - instead, the road has been closed completely.

“"I am now in the process of speaking with senior council officers to iron out problems with the diversion route. I am also liaising with the Highways team to see if this work can be carried out as a 'staged' process, so that businesses in my ward do not see trade from nearby Lowton and Golborne diminish.”

A spokesman for Warrington Borough Council said: "The diversion routes we have put in place are necessary so that the improvement works can be carried out safely." .