Angry traders expressed their concerns about a controversial shared space road scheme at a heated meeting in Kirkintilloch last week.
The town’s community council organised the meeting between businesses and the council, held at St Mary’s Church and chaired by East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie.
One trader said Kirkintilloch was in “gridlock” as a result of the roadworks, which will not be complete for at least another year.
Others complained their takings were down by as much as 60 per cent and some expressed doubt they would still be in business by the time the shared space is finished.
Two stores are closing in the town centre - a toy shop and the Rag Doll clothes store, which opened 48 years ago.
The entire stretch of Cowgate is to be shut in continuous phases until August 2017.
The shared space design, which will see traffic lights removed from junctions and vehicles and pedestrians sharing the same space using ‘courtesy crossings’ has been opposed by thousands of local people.
The Herald has been inundated with complaints and disabled people say they have effectively been banished from the centre of Kirkintilloch’s as they will not be able to cross the road safely.
Thursday night’s meeting heard the first phase of the job is seven weeks behind schedule because of essential gas improvement works.
Council officer Kevin Argue said the initial phase would be completed by June 20. He added he understood the concerns and frustration of traders and they were “trying to get it done as quickly as possible”.
He said: “This is about making the town more attractive. We need to look at the longer-term.”
He told traders Kerr Street and Catherine Street would be shut on June 29 for three weeks as work progresses.
He said: “After that, we will go on to the other sites.”
He confirmed no bus service would be available down Cowgate from the summer for at least nine months.
Cowgate will also be closed during the popular annual Canal Festival in August.
One frustrated shop owner said: “The Canal Festival is hugely popular. No one will be able to come to our shop. We always have a stall outside our store. We will lose thousands of pounds.”
A representative from the credit union in the town centre said the roadworks were causing havoc for disabled members, with one wheelchair-bound member unable to navigate through “all the bumps”.
Other stores complained of problems with access and of being threatened with parking tickets for stopping outside their shops to unload.
Community Council chairman Gordon Carmichael said there had been “a lack of joined up thinking” with regard to the work being carried out but called on everyone in the room “to pull together and leave united”.
Councillor Geekie agreed the council should liaise with traders to look at better signage for pedestrians and to look at traffic and parking problems.
Firms can also claim for financial assistance if they can demonstrate they have been adversely affected.