It can be a big pain in the till when the council decides to decorate the road outside your shop with double yellows, or reroute traffic in a diverting sort of way for roadworks to take place. In addition, the utility companies, including gas, water, electricity, telecommunications and cable companies, have statutory rights which allow them to place their equipment in roads and do their fair share of digging, too. However, only water companies are required by law to pay compensation, although you can also claim for a reduction in your business rates if the works go on for more than a few weeks. So, save your till rolls/computer records so you can provide evidence of your losses. However, there is some medium-sized good news on this front, and that is that the government has agreed to allow local authorities to charge utility companies lane rental on the roads they dig up, to the tune of up to £500 a day if they are late finishing the job. The councils will be allowed to keep the money. The theory is that this will encourage the utilities companies to be prompt about their business. This move has not come about, of course, because the government is concerned about loss of business for the parade of small shops suffering as a consequence. It is to address the huge frustration felt by the travelling public. But, what's good for the consumer in this case could be good for the retailer. Trial schemes started at the beginning of the year in Camden in London and in Middlesbrough. This follows moves last year where the government brought in powers allowing highway authorities to impose a daily charge of up to £2,000 on utility companies every time their work overran agreed deadlines. If roadworks do go on for a long time and disrupt your business, you'll probably need to get proactive to hang on to your livelihood. Try discussing ways of attracting/re-attracting customers during and after roadworks with other shopkeepers in the area, and approach the local authority as a group to see if there is anything in the council's kitty that it could use to help boost the area. I know one small parade in a London suburb which mounted an SOS (Save our Shops) campaign, during long and painful roadworks in progress. The local council stumped up for natty lantern-style lamplights with hanging baskets afterwards and the parade now thrives. No-one went out of business. If you are suffering on your own, however, you will need to conjure up even more imagination. I know one petrol forecourt owner who was plagued with stop-go lights that deterred customers from using his forecourt because of the difficulty drivers would have in getting back into the traffic. So he employed youngsters to run out to the mounting queue of vehicles ­ not ideal obviously ­ with extra special offers for them. The next week the stop-go lights were moved along the road and this brought him a real bonanza. He discovered more customers than ever pulling into his forecourt, in the hope that the queue might subside if they stopped off for a while. And I do know of several retailers who have overcome similar problems by offering to deliver goods to their customers. All this is never business as usual, but it'll help you keep afloat and make you look at your business in a different way. {{GROCER CLUB }}