TOWN centre businesses fear that they could be forced to close unless major redevelopment works are completed soon.

Shops in Newport Street had been expecting work to install new paving, seating, street lights and trees to be finished by the start of June, but have now been warned there is no guaranteed completion date.

When plans were first revealed for a £3 million revamp of the key town centre gateway, the whole scheme was expected to be completed before the end of 2016.

Bolton Council says the delay is due to the complex and intricate nature of the groundwork refurbishment, adding that the street will soon become a "fantastic" link to the new transport interchange and university building nearby.

However, some businesses are now worried that they may not survive to enjoy Newport Street once the redevelopment is complete.

Nigel Lyons, owner of the Coffee Grind, said: "It has had a massive effect on the businesses all along Newport Street.

"People still don't realise we are here after 10 months. We get people looking in the shop thinking that we have only just opened.

"Putting tables and chairs outside would be a big draw for us, so it is a shame for the business that we still aren't able to do it.

"Local residents are disgusted with how long this work is taking and it has become really hard for us.

"I do have confidence that, when the work is finished, it will be good. But we have to survive until that point.

"We opened here last year thinking that this would all be finished by now and were hoping to have a really strong summer this year."

The first stage of the Newport Street work, which also involved fitting new shop fronts, began in February, 2016.

A council spokesman said: “We want to thank people for being patient with us as we work to complete the project which will transform Newport Street and make it into a fantastic gateway to tie in with the completion of the new £48 million transport interchange.

“We appreciate the patience of businesses while the £3 million scheme to redevelop the street is under way.

“Businesses along the street will benefit from the University of Bolton’s new Institute of Management in Great Moor Street, which together with the increased footfall from the interchange should bring large numbers of customers into Newport Street every day.

“We apologise that the repaving work has not been completed sooner and that is due to the complex nature of the groundwork refurbishment which does involve extremely intricate work.”

Erfan Mohamed, owner of the Newsbox newsagents, claims his business has lost between £300 and £400 a day since the work started.

He added: "We thought that the work outside our shop was only going to take a matter of weeks.

"But it is still going on and we have lost a lot of business.

"If the situation stayed as it is, then I would say we could only go on for another four months."

Bolton Council earmarked up to £2 million for renovating shop fronts and £1 million on the street improvements.

Carron McKenna, manager of ShoeZone, said: "The works have had a big impact on us, but what can we do?

"There is no real walkway to the shop anymore because of the fencing and that has affected our trade badly.

"We just have to carry on and pray that we will come out of this okay.

"I can't wait for the work to finish because my bosses have promised that the shop can then have a total refit."

Sarfaraj Patel, of Super Pound Bargains, added: "There are no people coming into the shop now.

"We have noticed that we have especially lost older people, because they don't want to deal with the mess and the noise."