Cheryl Hickman, who runs the Bull Inn in Barton Mills, Bury St Edmunds, said although the Highways Agency insisted that the part of the A11 where the pub is located would be open, she was informed the day before road works began that it would in fact be closed.
Highways Agency planned a diversion route and erected a sign but only after Hickman complained. Hickman said traffic jams and poor signage meant that customers had been unwilling or unable to visit the pub.
She added that the pub took £262 on Saturday lunchtime and £405 on Sunday lunchtime, when figures would normally be in excess of between £1,000 and £1,500 on each day.
“This has caused unnecessary chaos as we had been advising our guests that they would be able to access the pub,” she told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser.
“We have received a verbal and email apology from Highways but obviously that doesn’t help our business. Most of our income comes from passing trade.”
Hancock and Hulme have both complained to the Highways Agency on Hickman’s behalf.
In an email to Graham Dalton, chief executive of the Highways Agency, Hulme wrote: “I am dismayed at the lack of care applied to the project management and the lack of empathy your employees have given to businesses locally.
“What is staggering is the statement made by your project manager who, has taken it upon himself to decide that temporary signage would not yield any custom for businesses.”
In an email to Hickman, Geoff Chatfield, project manager at Highways Agency, said the Bull Inn was not eligible for compensation because temporary loss of passing trade was a “recognised business risk”.
He said: “I sympathise with you and other owners of businesses faced with problems when the Highways Agency carries out essential road works.
“However, there is a statutory duty to maintain highways. In doing so, we seek to ensure that works are completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.”