TRAFFIC problems around the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet are so severe that some nearby businesses are considering relocating.

Residents in Rodbourne have complained for months about daily gridlock which has been made worse by the introduction of bus lanes.

The issue came to a head on Boxing Day when the entire area was gridlocked as shoppers rushed out for a bargain.

Local independent retailers have felt the knock-on effect, with customers unable to reach them or park nearby.

Just before Christmas the Portuguese restaurant 2Wins Cafe closed, with neighbouring shopkeepers blaming the lack of footfall on Rodbourne Road.

Tina Ward, 50, a sales assistant at sex shop Provocative Pleasures, said the company was considering moving to a new location due to the traffic.

The shop, formerly known as Intimate Torment, has been in the same spot for four years but the constant congestion has seen sales drop.

Ms Ward said: “We are thinking about looking for a new location as it’s just not viable here.

“For a short term while roadworks were being done, they opened the bus lanes and that helped.“We are either gridlocked out the front or at Great Western Road.”

Ms Ward said she felt that customers who wanted to visit the shop were turning to the internet due to a lack of parking nearby.

She fears that the bus lanes, with hefty fines imposed for driving in them, were putting people off from shopping in the designer outlet.

“I have had a lot of people coming in the shop and saying they’re never going to come in here again due to the bus lanes,” Ms Ward said.

“The idea of a designer outlet is to save money but you’re getting a fine, you’re not saving any cash.”

Neighbouring shop owner Gary Dolphin, 64, has had the Chromatic Arts picture framing business for 25 years.

He said: “The traffic does back up to a certain degree - it happened before Christmas and it happened after Christmas, it’s that six week period which is particularly bad.

“I’m sure the council could rearrange the roads and make it one way into the centre.”

Tim Scott, who runs Tim's Baguettes, described the situation as a nightmare. "It's having a profound effect on local businesses," he said. "I have had a problem with deliveres. It's quiet now but before Christmas drivers were sometimes gone for over an hour. I actually had to close up the store myself to do a delivery."

And Robert Gosling of Ron's Stores said: "The biggest problem is the majority of our customers can’t get to us because of the severe traffic that we’re experiencing over the holiday period due to the outlet village.

"It's massively affected businesses here. Even the chemist down the road has gotten so fed up he doesn’t open on a Saturday anymore.

"Its not just the businesses, it's also the locals. They are frightened to go out because it's going to take them an hour or an hour and a half to get back into Rodbourne again."

Hasan Ozturan, 33, has owned and run Turkish barber shop HS Hairstyling on Rodbourne Road for three years.

He urged the authorities to allow all motorists to use the bus lanes at peak traffic times.

He said: "The traffic queuing outside the business has definitely had an affect."It does affect the business. It is caused by too many people trying to go to the outlet. It creates too much traffic.

"People obviously still come to us, but there are people who don't come to us because of the traffic.

"I can't say yet for sure what impact that has had over the last few busy shopping weeks, but traffic has certainly been worse.

"It does make people not come in.

"I think the solution is there should be a different way into the outlet.

"There are also some routes which only buses can go into. I would rather they opened that up to all people. I would be very helpful."

Labour councillor Jim Robbins, who represents the Mannington and Western wards, recently said the council is yet to respond to his calls for action.

He said: “While everyone expects Boxing Day to be busy at the outlet village, it is clear that the traffic issues are causing huge inconvenience for the people of Rodbourne.

“We still haven’t received proper responses to repeated letters from the leader of the council and the cabinet member for highways from November. It is clear that they have no idea what they are doing.

“They should listen to residents, and start with the simple solutions such as cracking down on the people parking on double yellow lines on Rodbourne Road.”

In response, Mary Martin, the cabinet member for communities and place, acknowledged the problems and said: “We are working with the Outlet Centre and Steam on a number of measures such as upgrading the Mannington roundabout, putting double yellow lines on Paddington Drive and upgrading Mead Way to keep the roundabout clear.

"We are putting a lot of focus on what we can do to improve things, but the truth is we are very lucky to have such a successful Outlet Village."