He put all his money into his dream business and everything was going swimmingly.

But now Darren Morris’ Southampton fish and chip shop is being battered by roadworks and losing hundreds of pounds each day.

Southern Water is laying a new pipe in Woolston but road closures are cutting off access to Rock n’ Plaice in Portsmouth Road, and Darren said takings have fallen by 75 per cent and he has had to let some staff go.

Darren, 27, and partner Karina Holmes invested £25,000 in the business and were initially delighted at its early success.

He said: “We’ve put all our money into getting the shop off the ground and before Christmas business was great. But we came back after Christmas to find Southern Water had shut the roads around us and didn’t seem to be interested when I called them up about it.

“We got a letter on January 4 saying works would begin on January 5 and we were told Southern Water would be in contact with local businesses to get them through this.

“They only gave us a day’s notice – it’s not acceptable. The road is closed until the end of February."

He added: “We used to take £400 on a Friday and now we are taking £75. We’ve also had to let one of our staff go because we couldn’t afford to pay them to stand around without customers.”

He added that Southern Water told him he would only be compensated if he suffered an “exceptional loss”.

Southern Water said any business “adversely affected” by the works should contact them.

A spokesman said: “We are laying a new 1.4km length of water main in Woolston to serve the Centenary Quays development.

“The work is progressing well and due to be complete by the end of February. We have worked hard to minimise disruption while the installation is under way but if businesses do feel they have been adversely affected, they should contact us.”