FLEETWOOD businesses are hoping for an end to a trading “nightmare” with the restoration of the town’s tram service next month.
Contractors Bam Nuttall have said they hope to get the trams rolling again by the end of August. And the return cannot come soon enough for businesses who have been without the link for the whole of the summer.
Traders say that it has been disastrous for business.
Mike Sanderson, chairman of Fleetwood Chamber of Trade, said: “It really is a nightmare. Traders are suffering by not being able to get the people in.
“There is the number one bus service, but it isn’t a good enough replacement for the trams.
“The town is quieter than it would normally be.”
When the trams return it will only be to Fisherman’s Walk at the south end of Lord Street.
The full service up Lord Street and to the seafront won’t come until April next year.
Mr Sanderson said: “What can we do? We have to hang on in there until the trams are back in service.
“I’ve been looking at the work required in Cleveleys and it seems they have a mountain to climb to get the trams in by the end of July.
“All our traders are really suffering badly.
“No one is going to come along and say ‘You don’t have to pay your rent for a couple of months.’ “People still have their overheads to pay and it’s bad for the market where turnover is affected, probably more than anywhere else.
“It has been very difficult all round.”
Town councillor Steve Clarke, who monitors the tramway work for the council, said the problems caused to Fleetwood were unacceptable.
He said: “It’s disgusting. It’s killing Fleetwood.
“It’s a disgrace and it’s causing absolute chaos.
“It’s not good enough. They are missing deadlines all the time.
“Fleetwood is a great place. We are trying to bring pride back into the town and make people proud of Fleetwood but we are getting no help at all.”
One of the businesses nearest to the Fisherman’s Walk Terminal is Pricewise run by Anil and Arti Abbott.
Mrs Abbott said: “The trams are going to be very important to bring passing trade.
“We hope they come back soon – we need it very much.”
Fleetwood is not alone in suffering from the problem, either.
Traders in Cleveleys say they have had one of their worst trading years because of the disruption.
Kate O’Connell, site agent for Bam Nuttall, said the company was working as fast as possible but had encountered unforeseen problems with the track in Cleveleys.
She said: “We have had big problems with the existing drains.
“We have had to relocate one of the existing manholes round a water main and that has not been easy.
“It has caused us significant delays.”