THE first section of fencing connected with tramworks in North Albert Street has come down.
But traders say they cannot begin the process of rebuilding their businesses until the whole lot is removed.
They were pleased to see the start of the end to the misery – but were not ready to celebrate.
A 30-metre stretch of fencing was cleared from the kerb edge on North Albert Street – giving Kelly’s Tramway Cafe access to the road for the first time since July.
Delayed work on the supertram service has devastated the businesses in the area as limited access to shops has seen people stay away.
And cafe owner Michelle Kelly said the rest of North Albert Street would have to be cleared before she could start rebuilding her company.
She said: “Hopefully there will be a few more parking spaces for customers but it needs the whole street opening up before we can start getting back to normal.
“Perhaps we will got from having no-one in for breakfast to three or four breakfasts in the morning.
“We are still struggling.
“There is enough money for us to keep opening but nothing else.
“I would need to have a month’s takings every week to get back what we have lost.”
Further up the street is Danson’s fish and chip shop where the barriers aren’t due to come down until February 25.
Owner Farooq Ashraf said: “We are just collecting the debt and the bills and waiting for the workmen to go.
“We have gone from getting about 50 to 60 people in the shop down to about five or six.
“Parking has been the biggest problem and when people see all this outside they just won’t walk through the mess. People have come and told us they will be back when the workers have gone. All the hard work we have done has gone and we will have to start again.
“The problem is that what the contractors said they would do they have not done All these barriers should have gone by now. And it’s hard work for the old people living around here to get around them, it’s very difficult.”
There has been an acceleration of work in the area since a crisis meeting between traders and contractors Bam Nuttall two weeks ago. Business owners said some of them could be forced into bankruptcy.
As well as the February 25 goal for North Albert Street, Bam Nuttall has said Pharos Street should be clear by March 11.