HAMPSHIRE businesses continue to face 'torturous' problems following weeks of ongoing water works.

As reported in the Hampshire Chronicle last week (January 23), businesses at Fisher's Pond in Colden Common have reported a rapid decline in custom as Southern Water carries out essential works which have involved closing Main Road.

But other businesses further afield have also reported a drop in sales.

Nick Plowright, manager of The Dog and Crook pub on Brambridge, said: “It's torturous. Since they've put the diversion signs up I've lost somewhere in the region of between 20-30 per cent of my custom. The majority of my punters are more mature in years and they can't be driving across the motorway to get to me so they just don't come here.”

Komal Harpsey, joint owner of the Brambridge newsagents, said: “We have suffered so badly. We should be on £600 in takings every day but last Friday, what should be a busy day for us, we only took between £150-200. Ours is a passing trade and they are just missing it altogether.

“The other day I had to throw away eight loaves of bread. I'm binning fresh vegetables! We can't carry on like this.”

But Southern Water confirmed they will talk to local businesses and will consider all compensation claims on a case-by-case basis.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “We appreciate that road closures like this will create disruption and we are sorry for the frustration it has caused people. We took time with the council to carefully plan this essential water main replacement and contacted nearby businesses and residents before starting.“Our aim has always been to minimise the impact of the scheme and our contractor is working extended hours, seven days a week to get it finished as quickly and safely as they can. Consequently the work, which was due to continue into April, is now expected to be completed by the end of February and we can assure people that we are endeavouring to get things back to normal as soon as possible.”

Tensions have escalated to such an extent that contractors have reportedly called the police after being verbally abused by members of the public.

Concrete barriers were put in place in the roundabout of Main Road and Church Lane to minimise workers being threatened.

Project manager Peter Simmons said: “Local residents have been extremely supportive of the scheme and we're grateful for their patience and understanding. Unfortunately, a small number of drivers have chosen to drive through the plastic barriers, which is dangerous for both them and our crews.

“It also holds up the work, as crews must stop work and step aside to the let cars pass. We want to complete the work as safely and as quickly as possible and this is the best solution.”