A SMALL business owner says he has lost so much trade because of the Rodbourne Road roadworks that he’s been forced to close after 16 years of trading.

Associated Electrical and Lighting Ltd will be shutting its doors for good on April 29 after struggling through a year and a half of disruptive roadworks around the Bruce Street Bridges junction, which the company says resulted in it losing most of its customers.

Managing director Darren Wilson says the business has never recovered from the damage done to its sales in the year since the road reopened.

Three of the four full-time staff will lose their jobs.

Mr Wilson says he is disappointed by what he sees as a failure to assist businesses affected by the construction work that was carried out on the busy road.

He said: “It’s been a disaster, I’m completely numb from it all.

“I feel let down and deeply disappointed. I’ve invested a lot of money into this business and we’ve had little to no support.

“Customers were happy to fight their way through the blocked-off road for a few months but with the hold-ups and delays they found other places to go and they haven’t returned.

“We might as well not be here. We don’t have a business any more.”

Accounts and showroom administration manger Diana Collins was devastated by the closure.

Choking back tears, she said: “It’s the end of an era. I’m gutted.

“I helped Darren set the business up, it was a lot of hard work and dedication building it up and it feels like it’s been ripped away from us.

“In the early days, we worked seven days a week. We installed the trade counter ourselves, did the painting, set up the lighting, everything.

“It’s always been more than a job to me. I’m very passionate about it and we thought once the roadworks had finished we’d get everything back.

“If we’d known this would happen we’d have thrown in the towel then and there.”

Business will continue in some form as Mr Wilson is organising a move to a small office in an industrial park, where he will continue to offer some of the company’s services such as CCTV installation, electrical lighting design and professional sound service.

Diana will work with him two days a week part-time to manage the accounts, but plans to set up her own book-keeping and accountancy business from home.

Mr Wilson said: “We had a good following, we had a thriving customer base, but when you’re blocked off for that long, you lose trade.

“Some of our customers have been with us since we started, they’re shocked that we’re closing. We’d like to thank them for their support over the years.

“And after spending £8 million pounds restructuring the road, the traffic’s still just as bad. It’s ludicrous.”

AEL will be selling the last of its stock before it closes next week.