MAJOR roadworks are set to cause disruption to trade and motorists in Pershore for the next six weeks.

Business owners along High Street are worried that the project to replace 145 metres of old iron gas mains, which began on Tuesday, will put people off shopping in the town with large tailbacks already frustrating drivers.

Judy Lianos, owner of Jolie Ladieswear, said: “It is very bad for us. We are just starting a new season.

“It’s been vile in the retail trade with the floods and snow and we get back on our feet and then we get this. People come down the hill and see the queue and head off to Cheltenham.”

Matters were made worse yesterday when Severn Trent announced that it needs to carry out emergency works on the high street to repair a collapsed sewer at the junction of High Street and Church Street.

These roadworks, starting at about 9.30am outside 51 High Street, restrict traffic to single file and are set to be in place for a week.

Mike Shephard, of Echelon cycles, said he had seen queues from 8am as a result of traffic lights at the junctions of High Street with Priest Lane and Head Street in place for the duration of the works.

However, the message from traders, Wychavon District Council and the Pershore Market Town Partnership is that Pershore is very much open for business and shoppers are being urged to carry on making use of the town’s wide range of shops.

Fiona Abbott, of the Three Little Pigs, said: “The congestion is not as bad as I anticipated. I thought it would be mayhem, but they seem to be doing a good job.”

Wychavon and the market town partnership are hoping to counteract any problems by giving a cash boost to the town’s Pride loyalty card scheme with the monthly prize draw winner receiving £250 in vouchers for February and March.

Michael Amies, the group’s chairman, said: “The work has to be done, but we hope that this will help to persuade local people to make the best of it.

“We want people to keep coming to Pershore if they want the shops to be there when the road reopens.”