Safety fears over the former Central Plaza Hotel have once again forced road closures, leaving businesses trapped behind cordons - possibly for months to come.

Carlisle City Council confirmed that the closure of Victoria Viaduct, put in place due to concerns that the derelict former hotel may pose an “immediate danger”, is likely to last “months rather than weeks”.

A council spokeswoman added that an exact timescale before the road is reopened could not immediately be given, until the “extent of the damage and the scale of work required” to make the building safe is properly assessed.

Tuesday’s closure, put in place without warning at 3pm, extends along Victoria Viaduct from the junction with Blackfriars Street up to the junction with James Street, on the other side of the bridge.

Bush Brow and part of West Walls is also closed.

The closure cuts off a number of shops and businesses, including The Bed Shop Carlisle.

Up until March of this year, this was one of two bed shops on Victoria Viaduct, the other being Carlisle Bed Centre directly opposite.

However Carlisle Bed Centre closed earlier this year, with owners blaming the two-month closure of Victoria Viaduct in 2018.

Now owner of The Bed Shop Carlisle, Louise O’Brien, is afraid that her business could follow suit if they once again lose trade as a result of being trapped inside the road closure.

“I don’t know what would happen to us if the viaduct was closed for months,” she said.

“We’ve only just recovered from the impact of the closure last year.”

She said it was frightening to be left in a state of limbo, not knowing how long Victoria Viaduct is to be kept closed.

“It’s an awful feeling, not knowing how long it’s going to be,” she said.

“Is it going to be a week, a month, two, six months?

“We need to have some kind of idea what kind of timescale there might be so we can make plans.

“We’ve got 10 members of staff. They’ve got families to support.

“They need to know as well.”

She added that it was not just her business that was set to suffer as a result of an extended closure, but a number of surrounding businesses too.

“It’s not just our business it’s affecting.

“It’s affecting the company underneath us, Lazer Quest, all the companies across the road from us as well.”

But Louise insisted she would not be defeated by the road shutdown.

“We’ve got our customers’ orders to get out, and we need access to this building to do that.

“They [the council workers] asked us to leave - we’ve got to leave eventually because there’s no customers to come through the door.

“But we’ve got to get our vehicles loaded for tomorrow’s deliveries.

“Once we leave the store, we can’t get back in, they won’t let us back in.

“We’ve got to take everything out we need, and take it from there.

“We’ve got customers’ orders to meet, we don’t want to let our customers down - we won’t let our customers down.”

Last year’s closure of Victoria Viaduct, which began in May, lasted for nearly two months - also put in place due to fears over the safety of the former Central Plaza Hotel.

A city council spokeswoman said yesterday: “Our priority is to ensure the building is safe and all possible steps are being taken to find the quickest way to do this.

“Under the Building Act 1984 s78 Dangerous Buildings - Emergency Measures, we have a duty to ensure that the property does not cause an immediate danger to persons in and around the building.”