BUSINESSES in Marston fear they will suffer a reduction in takings as drivers choose to avoid the area where roadworks are expected to last 10 months.

Headley Way was hit by congestion yesterday as work was launched on the delayed Access to Headington project.

Nearby shops and businesses in Cherwell Drive, Marston, said they had already experienced a drop in footfall.

Kemal Koc, 46, who runs the Mediterranean Fish Bar with his brother Mehmet, 52, said: “We have already noticed fewer customers coming in and the roadworks have only just started.

“Lots of our customers are drivers. Some of them could now choose to avoid the area because they don’t want to get caught up in the roadworks.

“Most of our customers come by car from Headington, Cowley, all over Oxford – some even come from as far away as Kidlington because they like our fish and chips.

“Perhaps it’s too early to talk about compensation but I think that’s something businesses here will need – 10 months is a long time for roadworks.”

Kate Vaughan-Fowler, who runs the Deli-Licious cafe in Cherwell Drive, also fears her eatery will suffer from a fall in trade.

The mum-of-four from Woodeaton said: “I have no doubt the roadworks are going to have an effect on us - normally we have a steady flow of customers but it’s been dead so far.

“It took me half an hour to get here from the Marston flyover and usually it only takes two or three minutes.

“The amount of parking in the area is being reduced and the concern is that drivers will avoid the area so passing trade will be badly hit.

“I’m very concerned we will suffer financially as a result of this - it’s bad news for a family-run business like ours.”

Mrs Vaughan-Fowler, 53, said she has been running the cafe for the past eight years and has about 12 full and part-time staff.

She added: “We have lots of loyal customers, lots of regulars but if they can’t get here they can’t support us - it’s difficult enough to compete with the likes of Starbucks as it is.”

According to the Government, businesses can get a temporary reduction in their business rates if their premises are affected by severe local disruption, such as flooding, building or roadworks.

Access to Headington is a £16m project, which the council claims will improve roads for cyclists, pedestrians and bus users, and improve traffic flow with new intelligent traffic signals.

The Headley Way works were due to start in summer 2017 but were postponed due to other major work taking place elsewhere in Oxford.

The roadworks caused ‘heavy delays’ throughout Oxford, according to Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach.

The work in Headley Way is expected to last until March.

There will be temporary lights at the Marsh Lane junction for three weeks while central islands are removed and replaced with a temporary road surface.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has advised patients to allow extra time for their journeys.