INDEPENDENT traders in Salisbury are calling for the new People Friendly Streets traffic restrictions to be removed – arguing they have been a “disaster” for business.
Natalie Ashton, who runs OSO Boutique on High Street, said they “desperately” need to have traffic reinstated, in the hope that people will see their window displays and messages printed.
Natalie said: “Already our trade has diminished by the lack of customers who are able to ‘pop’ into town and we pay a rent premium to have a city centre main road facing premises – our rent has not been reduced since the initiative was put in place.
“Now with another lockdown we are desperate to use our shop windows to advertise all of the amazing Christmas gifts we have stocked up on for this year but we desperately need to have the traffic reinstated.”
With Christmas on the horizon, Natalie said shops like hers will suffer from the reduced exposure.
She added: “Allowing the traffic to pass through the centre of Salisbury will also remind people of all of us independent traders who are ready and waiting to meet their needs in what ever way we possibly can.
“Please help us combat the urge for people to take the easiest route and do their shopping with Amazon over the next few weeks.”
Dan Cartmale, Area Manager at the British Heart Foundation, says the scheme is a “disaster” for businesses, including the BHF on Fisherton Street.
He told the Journal: “My manager constantly has to reassure the public they can access our store by car.
“Local businesses get no marketing and despite numerous requests for support from Salisbury Bid, nothing.”
Tracey Parter, a market trader, adds that this scheme could be “the final nail in the coffin”, and adds that Wiltshire Council “seem totally out of touch with reality”.
She said: “You only have to try getting around the ring road, the last few weeks, before lockdown. “These schemes may look good, on a street plan, but the consequences are dreadful.
“There are now very few shops to draw people in to Salisbury, and now if you can manage to get through the increased traffic queues, you may not be able to park anywhere near where you need to go.
“Having worked on the Christmas Market for years, I found that a lot of customers came in from Amesbury, but they no longer normally shop in Salisbury, but Andover, due to free parking. Salisbury doesn’t have the catchment area it used to.”
A manager of a coffee shop in town also told the Journal that they have noticed a decline in their regular customers since the start of the scheme, and that they fear this is the same for other businesses.
They added: “I also am unable to get hold of the nessasary information from my head office to apply for the car pass for myself which means I can no longer drive to my cafe to pick up or drop off stock/supplies etc, meaning I sometimes have to carry very heavy stuff from one of the car parks which means I have to pay parking plus being difficult to carry and very time consuming.
“As someone that does drive it now takes a lot longer to get across the city and I now avoid going to places across town and in the city because of this.
“And I know I’m not the only one so businesses will be affected and during this time with COVID 19 (plus two years since Novichok) I feel that the scheme should of been put on hold because of the initial impact it will make to businesses, especially the many small businesses and Indie shops of Salisbury.”