BURST water mains and roadworks brought traffic to a standstill and hit trade for shops in Leigh.

Ruptured water mains in Eastwood Old Road and The Fairway led to huge tailbacks for motorists who also had to negotiate an A127 closure and a diversion to Bellhouse Lane.

Stephen Aylen, Independent councillor for Belfairs ward said: “You couldn’t make it up really. On Friday, City Fibre was doing installation work between The Fairway and Eastwood Old Road.

“They were digging a hole in The Fairway when they discovered an electrical problem. The electric company had to make the hole bigger and then they discovered a gas leak. The gas company had to make the hole even bigger and somehow found water leaks.”

In total, four leaks were discovered. A partial closure in still in place.

Mr Aylen added: “The lights at Bellhouse Lane were phased for the A127roadworks but couldn’t cope with ten times more traffic wanting to use that road at the weekend because The Fairway was closed to traffic coming off the A127.

“It was chaos and caused huge problems for shops in Eastwood Old Road at the worst time when they would be expecting Christmas trade.”

Robert Byford, owner of Byfords Food Hall, said: “Lots of customers found it very hard to get through. The traffic was awful. We lost about 100 customers. That’s £300 a day and at the weekend its £500 a day lost.

“We serve a lot of people at the weekend and at this time of year a lot of people are wanting to get in their Christmas orders so we are hoping it will be sorted out before next weekend.”

Ron Woodley, councillor responsible for transport, said: “Our executive director for neighbourhoods and environment contacted Essex and Suffolk Water on Sunday upon receiving contact from councillor Aylen. Essex and Suffolk Water said work to repair the water leaks would not commence until Monday. Unfortunately this is something that is out of our hands as a council.

“In relation to the A127 closures, the council had multiple staff visit the site following calls to our out of hours number and made some minor changes to the traffic management as a result.”