Small businesses on Oxford Road have told of the ‘chaos’ roadworks have caused.

Half a mile of the busy link to Reading town centre is in the process of being resurfaced by Reading Borough Council, while broadband companies continue to lay cables further up the road.

Customers have reportedly stopped shopping at Zam-Zam Halal Superstore and owner Shahid Sarfraz put it was down to the disruption.

“It’s really bad for us,” said the 64-year-old, who has run the shop for 13 years.

“We’ve lost all our customers the last three or four days, we need the council to look after us.”

Reading Chronicle: FM Conway employees at work near Mr Sarfraz' shopFM Conway employees at work near Mr Sarfraz' shop

He said only five shoppers attended on Wednesday and as of 11.30am on Thursday, he hadn’t seen any.

Mr Sarfraz said he appreciated the benefits the roadworks would bring in the long-term, but after the impacts of Covid, any disruption to small businesses has a big impact.

“Big businesses grow every day. Small businesses are hard these days. The big stores and chains come in and at my age I can’t find a job anywhere.”

He gestured to his shop: “That’s the living.”

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Traffic has been stalled for weeks by Instalcom laying broadband cables for City Fibre across several areas around Reading.

At the same time, the council began resurfacing between Beresford Road and Russell Street on Monday as part of a Reading West Station upgrade, with tarmac expected to be laid by November 23.

Highway and pavement works for the project are set to last until mid-December.

Reading Chronicle: A construction crew contracted by Reading Borough Council resurface Oxford Road, ReadingA construction crew contracted by Reading Borough Council resurface Oxford Road, Reading

The timing of both sets of roadworks frustrated employees at Elle’s Baguette’s, which has been a feature of Oxford Road for almost two decades.

Hayley Clapshaw, who has worked there for eight years, said: “It’s just awful but there’s not a lot you can do about it.

“They are just resurfacing this so it’s only going to last a couple more days, but then you’ve got Instalcom as well - it’s too much at once.

“They’re all doing it at the same time and then it’s just chaos, Reading is actually chaos to get around, it’s horrible. You can’t park anywhere – ridiculous.”

Reading Chronicle: Elle's Baguettes, in a half-mile stretch of Oxford Road where resurfacing is taking place until November 23Elle's Baguettes, in a half-mile stretch of Oxford Road where resurfacing is taking place until November 23

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Employee of 18 years Tina Atkins praised the construction workers as helpful and amicable, but said business had been a little quieter while works had been ongoing.

Business owners in Oxford road said they had heard some shops closed temporarily due to the disruption.

Google lists Oxford Road Supermarket as temporarily closed (pictured below on Thursday at noon) but it is unclear whether this was due to the roadworks.

Reading Chronicle: Oxford Road Supermarket, which was temporarily closed on ThursdayOxford Road Supermarket, which was temporarily closed on Thursday

A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: “The closures were advertised, and advance notice boards erected, with letters delivers to residents and businesses to let them know in advance of the improvements.

“The pavements remain open for pedestrian access and businesses can speak to the site staff to assist with access for deliveries when it is safe to do so.

“We appreciate there will be some disruption to local businesses, but it is important that roadworks are carried out to ensure there is a safe public highway network.

“We apologise for the inconvenience whilst our contractors deliver these essential works as quickly as possible.

Speaking previously to the Chronicle, CityFibre’s city manager for Reading Stacey King said: “We always try to keep disruption to a minimum and we are implementing a series of additional training sessions for Instalcom’s construction team to ensure the rollout is delivered effectively and efficiently.

In the same report, Instalcom’s communications director Paul Alderton said: "Instalcom are working collaboratively with our client CityFibre to ensure that the installation of a new full fibre network does not cause unnecessary inconvenience to the residents of Reading.

"We are aware of the concerns that have been raised and we are working with our project management team to ensure all civils and fibre activities are undertaken with minimal disruption."