TRADERS in Rawtenstall have urged customers to support them as a major sewer improvement scheme is expected to last until next January.

Rossendale MP Jake Berry is calling for people to support their local businesses, and United Utilities to complete the £7million works quicker to ease disruption for traders and commuters.

It comes as traders in Bank Street have become concerned that customers are avoiding the area because of the roadworks at the junction of St Mary’s Way.

United Utilities said the company is considering removing the traffic management at the junction of Bank Street and St Marys Way for a two-week period up to Easter as the firm ‘knows this is one of the busiest shopping periods’.

Other works are being carried out on land off the A682 near New Hall Hey Road, Bacup Road near the junction with Bury Road, the Ilex Mill car park, off Fall Barn Road, and the car park in Highfield Road, Waterfoot.

Tim Riley, who runs The Veg Shop in Bank Street, said: “I feel it’s a necessity that they carry out the work, but our businesses are considerably quieter since the work started last month. The congestion it’s causing is making people avoid the area.”

Wayne Godden, who runs Mooney’s Health Store, in Bank Street, said: “This street is full of local, family-owned, independent businesses, who have been here for many years.

“We have survived the recession. But I think these roadworks are making people think they can’t access us, but we’ve got free parking and are still very much open for business.”

Mr Berry MP said: “We’ve got more than 300 years of retail experience in the traders on this street, but people have to realise if they don’t support their independent local businesses, they’ll disappear. It’s worth queuing because it’s a great place to shop. People want these works completed as quickly as possible, and I will be talking to Lancashire County Council to see what’s possible.”

Brian Jenkins, United Utilities project coordinator, said: “We completely understand how disruptive our sewer improvement work is on the daily life of residents, commuters and business owners in Rawtenstall town centre. We’re doing all we can to strike the right balance.”