Café owners on the A17 motorway say they are losing thousands to lost trade due to roadworks on Sutton Bridge.
Harold Paine says he has never seen such poor trade in the 56 years he has operated the England Motel in Fleet as fed up motorists do not stop after long delays at Cross Keys Bridge.
His brother Bill Payne, who runs the farm café opposite, says he usually served breakfast for 150 people, but last week there were only six people on Friday.
Lincolnshire County Council began work in February to repaint the bridge as part of a multi-million pound project to run until July, prompting some motorists to avoid the A17 motorway.
This is due to several difficult years for cafes, which have been forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Veteran champion Harold is also concerned that the summer season should be a busy one due to roadworks after losing around £800 a day in revenue.
He said: “If councillors had any brains they would be dangerous. The works on Sutton Bridge are hitting me hard because people aren’t coming here, they’re taking the A47. Or they’ve lost so much time waiting on Sutton Bridge that they can’t stop for a cup of tea. “They had all this time during Covid, but they’re doing their job now.”
His brother Bill is also losing money. He said: “On an average day we served breakfast to 150 people, but today we only had six people.
“And on a normal weekend we would have thousands of bookings but we don’t have any.
“We’re not getting anything. The road is dead because they are doing repairs.”
The problems have also been compounded by rising costs: barrels of frying oil now cost more than £30, whereas previously they cost £12.
And the snack van is also parked in the Gedney car park. Harold, who pays £150 a day for electricity along with staff costs, said: “I don’t
begrudge anyone making a living and it’s not a problem in the right place, but we have eight cafes within a 10 mile radius.
“Why should I pay £30,000 in business rates when someone can park up, pay £1.25 a day and take my business? If it’s not sorted out soon, I’ll stop paying.”
Claire Wass was trading in the car park near Cross Keys Bridge, but moved for her.
Her licence had been revoked by the county council and it was the only suitable deferral that would allow her to do school running.
Claire, who offered a choice of breakfast options from her menu, said: “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
A council spokesman said: “As local authorities, we have a duty to maintain the highway and carry out repairs such as these on the Cross Keys Bridge. Such works often cause some level of disruption, which we try to avoid or minimise wherever possible, but they are essential to the smooth running of our extensive road network.
“We only allow food vans in parking areas that are separated from the main carriageway to ensure the safety of all road users, the food van itself and its customers. While the work is ongoing, naturally, there must be some restrictions on idling etc. to ensure that neither the people working nor their customers are put in potential danger.
“When such a restriction occurs, it is because there are no other options available to ensure safety, and – in the normal course of the work – these restrictions usually only apply for the duration of the work itself. “