TRADERS have told of their concern over signs diverting traffic away from Lyme town centre in the run-up to Christmas.

They fear that a 'road closed' sign at the Lyme Regis turn-off on the A35 placed after a partial building collapse in the town centre is 'sending out the wrong message' to customers.

The town centre traders say they want to make it known they are still open for business and that the high street is still accessible via Anning Road. 

Cllr Belinda Bawden, who is organising the Christmas market on Friday December 15, said: "Lyme Regis is very much open for business and festive fun in spite of the road closure at the Bell Cliff building."

As reported, Broad Street has been closed since Wednesday, November 8 following the incident at the Bell Cliff restaurant and tea rooms.

Road closed signs are in place at the Lyme Regis turn-off on the A35, diverting traffic towards Axminster to access the town and causing a 7-mile detour.

On Wednesday, November 29, Dorset Council issued a new public notice that could last a further three weeks as repairs are undertaken, after an initial notice of 21 days was issued at the time of the incident.

The News understands work has yet to get underway on the repairs and that the owners of the Bell Cliff building are set to meet the council and builders next week to discuss how to move forward and will provide updates on the situation after the meeting is held. 

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Jane Jones, owner of Baroque on Broad Street, said: "You can hear a pin drop in Lyme Regis.

"This horrific sign is most certainly sending out the wrong message to visitors to our lovely town.

"The bleakest month, November and we as traders in the small, desirable town of Lyme Regis are witnessing a massive loss of footfall leading up to this festive time of year.

"The Bell Cliff, a listed and iconic building sat at the bottom of our beautiful main shopping thoroughfare, Broad Street, has been condemned with a barrier dividing the road and a heap of imposing metal scaffolding to warn pedestrians away.

"As if that wasn’t bad enough, the road into Lyme off the A35 states 'road closed' and sends potential visitors around the houses literally via a lengthy and unnecessary detour.

"They’re not to know that our fabulous high street is accessible via Anning Road and then up to the top of Broad Street.

"We’ve just had a road closure for a month before this utterly ludicrous calamity and it’s not good. It sends the wrong signals.

"Are we a town that’s more or less permanently closed to visitors.

"Please, please Lyme Regis Council, Dorset Highways or a very important person in charge of signs, get this woefully wrong sign removed ASAP. We need business in Lyme."

Richard, a local trader on Broad Street added: "Lyme Regis in the afternoon now is very quiet, it is noticeably quieter.

"I have had a couple of people say we didn't know that the shops were open.

"Lots of customers are also getting taken around Axminster just to get here because of the road signs.

"It means we have a lot of people come in and say it took them a long time to even get into the town."

Dorset Council has been approached for comment.