BUSINESSES along the coast road are bracing themselves for three months of disruption following the closure of the road through Abbotsbury.

Wessex Water is replacing old asbestos drains in the village with plastic pipes and says the narrow streets necessitate a three-month closure.

The old mains have burst around 30 times in the last 15 years.

The work will mean a 42-mile diversion via the A354 Weymouth to Dorchester and A35 Dorchester to Bridport road.

Even though there are signs saying businesses are open as usual, traders are worried.

Abbi Lister, whose family runs the Egg Cup Tea Rooms in Swyre, said they had already seen far fewer customers than normal.

She said: “It does clearly state the road is closed at Abbotsbury which is better than I thought but we would expect to see quite a few more people than we have, especially this week with The Hive café closed.

“We rely on our local trade as well as our holiday trade and some of them are elderly customers and if they are not sure they will not attempt it.”

Abbi said they had been using Facebook pages to make sure they got the message across that it was still possible to get to the tea rooms.

She added: “We are becoming increasingly worried as to how we can survive these winter months.”

David Allen, of The Manor at West Bexington, said even though Wessex Water had done the best job they could to lessen the impact it would still be bad for trade.

He said: “It is going to be a major impact to everybody along the road.

“There are signs up all over the place so it is a bit confusing.

“But it is better this time of year than any other but it is not good for trade. The fact that they posted the road as permanently closed, no-one is going to come, no customers are going to come from Weymouth, that is the problem.

“We have got to be a bit sympathetic to Wessex Water, they have to replace the water main and they have tried to do it in a way that’s as acceptable as possible.”

Wessex Water is providing a shuttle bus service, which can be picked up at the village car park in Rodden Row, with another running to and from the sub tropical gardens.

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

It will be using ‘no dig’ techniques where possible, which will reduce the number of excavations that need to be made in the highway. Wessex Water said it would look at claims for compensation where businesses can show they have experienced financial hardship.