TOWN centre shops and businesses have called for urgent action to stop roadworks hitting Easter trade.

Work to widen pavements and make Rosemary Lane in Richmond one-way began in mid-January.

Shops say barriers around the roadworks, plus noise and dust from the heavy machinery, has deterred customers and reduced takings.

Businesses have called on highways chiefs to speed up the work so trade over the Easter holiday period will not be affected.

Andy Oliver, owner of take-away Pizza Figaro, said shops were originally told the work would be finished by March 21, but have recently been informed this is unlikely.

He said he was losing £300 to £400 a week because of the disruption.

"It's not going to send me under, but it's going to take quite a while to recover," he said.

"I have no complaints with the workmen - they are doing the best they can. But the bosses have reneged on their promises."

Julia Grant, of The Silver Shop, said trade had been "atrocious" since work began.

"People walk up Finkle Street, see the roadworks and turn back," she said. "It's really making a big difference at a time when the tourists are starting to come back."

Wendy Harvey, owner of Harvey's Cafe, said: "It's like a bomb site out there. We've kept our local customers, but lost all the passing trade."

Richmond Mayor Russell Lord has called on the county council to speed up the work.

"This is simply not good enough," he said. "This is just the start of roadworks planned for Richmond."

David Bowe, council assistant director of highways, accepted the work by contractors Raynesway was behind schedule, saying the bad weather was partly to blame.

He said a decision would be taken early next week to either bring in extra men in a bid to finish the job before Easter or to finish the pavements, then pull out of the area until after the holidays.

Colin Grant, Richmond town manager, said: "I'm extremely sympathetic and will continue to press North Yorkshire County Council to speed up the work."