BUSINESSES are already counting the cost of the latest six-week closure of part of Ipswich Road.

Essex Highways has closed Ipswich Road south to allow for piling works to take place as part of the long-running £10 million roadworks scheme in the area.

Southbound drivers are unable to turn right from Ipswich Road north into Cowdray Avenue and are instead being directed along St Andrew's Avenue and back on themselves.

Since the closure came into force on January 4 it has caused significant congestion.

Darren Lisney, owner of The Old Siege House, in East Street, said regulars were telling him they were avoiding the area.

He said: "We can't blame them because if it takes an extra half an hour or an hour to get here I can understand why they don't come.

"We are trying to get a reduction in our rates through the Government but we have been told we have to have comparative figures a year before and a year after the works.

"As a small business we work on a month to month basis. Over these six weeks we could theoretically go out of business."

He added: "Luckily a couple of members of staff left before Christmas so we have managed to reduce costs that way."

The roadworks scheme will see a complete revamp of the Ipswich Road and Harwich Road roundabouts.

Works, which started in September 2018, are set to continue until the summer.

Phil Suarez, owner of Jennifleurs florist in St Christopher Road, said the business was having to plan ahead to combat delays.

He said: "We have mitigated the impact because we completed some deliveries in the evening.

"No one has ever had any issue with the work going on but it shouldn't take so long to finish."

A spokesman for Essex Highways apologised for the delays.

He said: "We understand the impact the works are having on businesses on the area and we want to help in any way.

"For example, although Ipswich Road south will have to stay closed for six weeks for the piling works, we will look to reduce the traffic management as much as we can as the work progresses, in a bid to alleviate the pressure on residents and businesses local to the area.”

The spokesman added the improvements were necessary to avoid "worsening congestion" as Colchester grows.

He added: "We would ask people to understand that shorter-term pain is often necessary for longer-term gain.

“Roads in the area will certainly have more capacity for traffic when this scheme is completed.

"There have, unfortunately been delays with the work, almost entirely due to unforeseen issues as utility companies worked to move pipes and cables away from the new wider roads."