BUSINESSES in Dalston are noticing a sharp decline in trade after a series of roadworks and closures has turned the area into a ‘ghost town’.

The village, south of Carlisle, has in its centre – known as The Square – several independent shops, including a clothes shop, bridal shop, hairdressers, a chippy, a butcher, a sandwich shop, and a pub, and relies in part on people passing through for custom.

But after Dalston Road, the main route to and from Carlisle, closed on June 17, trade has fallen, according to business owners.

The situation was also made worse by temporary lights affecting the A595 route, which was supposed to act as a diversion to access Dalston. While they were in operation they heavily extended journey times.

Carla Barros, manager of the Dalston Fryer, the village’s chippy, said: “Last weekend we saw a massive difference, it’s so much quieter, and it’s not just us.

“After 4pm when school finishes, there’s basically no one in the village, it’s not nice.”

She said there’s also been a ‘massive difference’ business-wise.

“It never crossed my mind it would be as bad as this,” she said, explaining that two main things were noticed – reduced collection from around 17 orders on their slowest day to now having about six, and reduced fish sales because her elderly customers haven’t been in.

Living in the city makes it hard with the roadworks, she added: “I live near the infirmary, and going around Dobbies last week it took me 33 minutes to get home - the week before it took about 15 minutes.

“How can I blame my customers when we have this traffic situation?”

It’s affecting the butchers too, as Nicola Walker, co-owner of Carrock Meats, said: “The road closing has totally affected us – the problem is the roadworks on the diversion.

“I don’t know who would have the mind to put them there - customers are saying it takes 40 minutes to get around.

“The week before last week was our busiest, and then it dropped off completely after the road was closed."

The roadworks are in place to construct a new link road to the M6 - the so-called Southern Link Road - and as The Square relies on passing trade there’s a worry among some that once this new route is finished, a lack of passing custom may be a continuous issue for the village.

Ms Brown said she’ll wait and see but they’ve got a strong, reliable customer base.

Deb Clode, owner of Crumbs, a sandwich shop, said it’s mostly affecting them on Saturday. She said it’s still early days, but they’ve been lucky to get mid-week trade from the roadworkers themselves.

“They’re kind of stuck with us, they can’t get anywhere, they’d have to go and sit in their traffic," she added.

“We’re only into week two and we haven’t lost anything yet, but I’ve noticed a difference in our trade, and it’s a ghost town in Dalston.”

Suzie Brown, owner of clothes shop Suziebou, said she’s noticed the footfall reducing ‘significantly’ in the first week and ‘everyone is complaining’ about it.

The parking situation is ‘still tricky', but there are fewer cars driving through.

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“Many of my customers still come from out west, but I think it’s going to be a long, difficult summer.”

Peter Greenaway from the hairdressers King’s Hair said he’s working on trying to improve the situation while he’s doing well.

“Dalston is still very much open for business but I do feel for those businesses who rely on that passing traffic.

“We are doing all we can at King's to encourage our customers to use the other shops while attending their appointments with us.

“We have reached out to the shops around us and offered to hand out something in a way to encourage our customers to use other services while here.

“Our customers still come regardless as we are by appointment, so it makes sense to be able to help the other shops in the village and encourage our customers in their direction.”

A Cumberland Council spokesperson said the temporary lights have now been removed and were there so Electricity North West could carry out utility works.

They added that the works were planned well in advance and advertised widely.

“We understand the inconvenience caused and appreciate the patience and cooperation of the public.

"Our goal is to complete these necessary works as efficiently and safely as possible to improve the overall infrastructure and traffic flow in the area for the future," they said.