New motorway has caused our business to slump, say traders

Barry McGovern and Hugh Robertson
Barry McGovern and Hugh Robertson

Traders say they have suffered a huge drop in business since a new stretch of motorway opened because customers can no longer find them.

They are demanding better signs so that M8 drivers don’t bypass them and spend their money elsewhere.

Birkenshaw Trading Estate is thought to employ more than 1000 people and until recently customers had easy access via the A8 Bargeddie exit and Aitkenhead Road.

However, the M8 extension between Baillieston and Newhouse means only local traffic now uses the A8.

Hugh Robertson, who owns home interiors store Monarch, said business has been “devastated” as a result.

He told how one customer took three hours to get from Shotts after struggling to work out the new road layout.

Mr Robertson said: “On average we have around 15,000 customers a week, but the week after the new M8 opened it was down to 4000.

“The park is dead as a doornail. We have 140 parking spaces and usually customers moan they can’t find one, but at one point last Saturday there were only four cars parked there.”

Barry McGovern, manager at the adjacent Carpet King, also reported a substantial fall in customers. He said: “The first Saturday after the motorway opened the store was as quiet as you would expect on the day of an Old Firm football match.

“Customers who do make it here are telling us they won’t be back because of the sheer difficulty in getting to the store.

“People coming from the east will stay on the motorway to Glasgow instead.

“The situation’s made worse because for customers coming from Glasgow on the M74 the Daldowie exit they would normally take for Uddingston is closed for roadworks.”

The traders say Uddingston should be included on signs for drivers leaving the M8 as many will not know they have to take the junction 7a exit marked Bellshill.

If they miss that they must continue to Baillieston then join the old A8.

Mr Robertson, who employs 30 people, insists traders deserve proper signage.

He said: “This park has been here since the 1970s. It was one of the first in the country and North Lanarkshire Council gets millions in rates from stores here. I myself have been paying £156,000 for the last six years.

“Surely there is a responsibility to look after the traders and make sure our customers are directed on to the A8 so they don’t bypass us?”

The council said it had pointed out a lack of signs to Transport Scotland, the Government body responsible for upgrading motorways.

A spokesman explained: “We responded to Transport Scotland’s consultation on road signage in relation to the new motorway project and highlighted a number of locations within North Lanarkshire which were not signed.”

Transport Scotland said when a connection is completed in the coming weeks traffic for the A8 will leave the M8 at Newhouse. A diversion at present means drivers must stay on the M8 until the Bellshill exit.

A spokesman said: “Since the opening of the new motorway we have seen a significant reduction in congestion on the A8, allowing better access from the A752 Aitkenhead Road to the trunk road network.”