Traders in a Speyside village fear roadworks at the height of the visitor season could spell the “death knell” for local business.
A major resurfacing programme will start next week on a rundown stretch of the A95 which runs through the centre of Aberlour.
And shops, hotels and restaurants which rely on custom from tourists to make ends meet say the timing of the three-month project could “bankrupt” them.
Roads company Bear Scotland said it would do “everything possible to minimise disruption” – but could not explain why the works were scheduled to clash with the summer holiday season.
Jayde Ross, who owns the A Gift From Scotland tourist shop and the Aye Candy ice cream parlour in the High Street, said she was “tremendously worried” about the impact the roadworks would have on passing custom.
She said: “This will be our first season running the ice cream shop on the High Street, and we didn’t expect the bombshell that we would be impacted by these works.
“The roadworks were originally set to begin in January, but were delayed, and no one can understand why they’ve been scheduled for the summer rather than waiting until September.
“Since January I’ve phoned Bear Scotland begging for updates and we were just hit with this 10 days ago.
“We have additional sources of income to remain above water, but we worry for shops that don’t have that.”
The project will stretch nearly a mile along the High Street, with work being completed in stages.
Owner of the Fresh-on-Spey High Street restaurant, Ronnie Noble, said locals originally agreed to Bear Scotland’s plans – but on the understanding the work would be carried out over the winter months.
He explained: “The summer season helps tide us over the quieter winter period, and if we make losses over the next few months it could be a death knell for some of us.
“I have 12 members of staff, and I am very worried I may not be able to keep them all on if business suffers.
“It really is a disaster, everyone thought the work would be performed over the winter so we’re all shocked that it’s planned to start on Monday.
“Tourists coming here like to walk the length of the village, and visit all the shops, but that could all be completely wiped out for the next three months.
“We’re delighted the road is being repaired, and everybody knows it needs doing – but the timing will kill our businesses.”
Owner of the Ewe and Me gift shop, Sarah Baines, added: “There’s no doubt this will affect businesses, and we just question why it needs done over summer.”
The village also boasts the Aberlour distillery and visitor centre and the Walkers shortbread factory.
A Bear Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are doing everything possible to minimise the disruption during the upgrade of Aberlour High Street and we have consulted with the local community association and local authorities throughout the planning process to make sure that they are fully informed.
“The scheme is being constructed in six phases to avoid disrupting the whole High Street at any one time and additional temporary signing will be put in place to let everyone know that Aberlour is open for business as usual.
“It is essential that this work is carried out and we hope that the community will be pleased with the results which will bring long-term environmental benefits to the area.”
The renovation work is designed to improve drainage and surfacing issues on the High Street.
Treatment systems have been designed to stop untreated water entering the River Spey, and the existing footways and carriageways will be resurfaced to improve road safety and durability.
The renovations will primarily be carried out during the day, and it is thought resurfacing the road will cut down on traffic noise.