Pedestrianisation could kill St Ives shops

I CANNOT comment in detail about the plans for changes to Market Hill, in St Ives, as there seem to be several that all involve pedestrianisation. To my knowledge none of the shops or residents directly affected by these plans has been consulted at all.

I CANNOT comment in detail about the plans for changes to Market Hill, in St Ives, as there seem to be several that all involve pedestrianisation. To my knowledge none of the shops or residents directly affected by these plans has been consulted at all.

I am a shopkeeper and am seriously worried about the viability of my business and of the town itself if these plans are allowed to go ahead.

The work is expected to take up to two years to complete. Any disruption, such as scaffolding or roadworks, has an effect on trade that is out of proportion to the obstruction itself. The construction work itself could kill the town before the new scheme begins.

Pedestrianisation works only if the car parks are nearby and free, and there are plenty of attractions to make the place worth visiting. In St Ives there are car parks, but the prices are going up again later this year. It's a pretty town with a river and some interesting buildings, but not much else by way of attraction except small independent specialist shops. Tourists who come into our shop comment on this more than anything else about the town.


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Tourists certainly like to sit by the river or enjoy a coffee, but they also like to wander around different shops.

Chris Allen's comment that to make towns viable we must make them look good shows a lack of business knowledge. Tourists are not going to come to a town just to admire the pavements, certainly not if they are surrounded by empty or boarded-up shops.

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St Ives is not just for the tourists but also for the many residents of the town and nearby villages who use the shops, banks, post office, cafés, pubs and other services. They are not coming for a day out. They just need to be able to park in the town for a short while.

There is a constant turnover of cars outside our shop, which is as it should be because it shows the town is still viable.

When on-street parking charges were introduced on the south side of Market Hill, our lunchtime takings dropped and have never fully recovered even though the scheme was scrapped.

That is an indication of what will happen if the whole street is pedestrianised. Small retail outlets across the country are closing at an alarming rate for many reasons, two being the internet and large supermarkets with free car parking. Last month, the four big supermarket chains experienced a 37 per cent increase in profits on non-food sales, which is a 37 per cent loss for the rest of us.

Many shopkeepers would probably consider the third reason for shop closures to be the constant battle with local authorities over business rates, bureaucracy and silly town centre plans. It is not easy being an independent retailer at the moment. We are not valued by local authorities, whose members simply do not realise what an important resource they have.

It is the shops that give St Ives much of its character and vibrancy, and many of those same shops have recently closed.

Most of the premises on the south side of Market Hill do not have back entrances, so deliveries come to the front. Small shops rely on carriers. We have about 60 suppliers, all of whom use various carriers. We have no say as to when deliveries arrive and no power to dictate terms.

I understand the district council has Government money to spend and is determined to spend it regardless of the effect on the town. Their argument is that the scheme is a green measure. This is disingenuous. If people cannot park near the shops, they will drive to somewhere they can.

Nationally, the economic outlook is very gloomy. We all know that staying in business is going to be even more difficult. It is therefore galling that our own district council seems determined to put the final nails in the coffin.

Dr CHERRY DURRANT

Metamorphosis

Market Hill

St Ives

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