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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Sheerness High Street shops urge Town Team to reconsider trial road closure

02 March 2014
by Emma Grove

Traders are unhappy about the pilot scheme whereby the road has been shut on Saturdays from the clock tower down to Victory Street since November.

The change will be in place until spring, when a decision will be made on whether it becomes permanent.

Huseyin Cecen and Muzo Tasdogan from Rio's Cafe in Sheerness

Huseyin Cecen and Muzo Tasdogan from Rio's Cafe in Sheerness

The Town Team successfully applied to Kent Highways for the road to be closed in a bid to boost trade by encouraging pedestrians to shop in the town.

But there’s been a backlash from businesses, which say the pilot has had a huge negative impact on them.

Muzo Tasdogan, who runs Rio’s Cafe, says he is losing money because of the trial.

He said there had been times during the pilot when his business had been completely empty, whereas usually it was his busiest day.

“They are trying to make it busier, but it’s winter and nobody wants to walk,” he said.

“Why haven’t they shut the other end as well? That end is so busy and we are so quiet and it’s getting worse.

“There was supposed to be a market [in the high street] but there’s no market.”


An empty Sheerness High Street

An empty Sheerness High Street

His thoughts were echoed by Lewis Feaver, who owns Rob’s Greengrocers. He said times were tough enough as it was without closing the main road through Sheerness.

He added: “It’s not working for us, and it’s a substantial amount that I’m losing.”

“I would be up for it perhaps once a month if there’s something going on, but every Saturday in winter is a no-go.

“A lot of my trade on Saturday is for sacks of potatoes. People will not walk for that.

“I have lost a lot of my regular customers, and it will take a lot of time to get that back.

“It’s not just traders that
are not happy – it’s customers too.

“It will take a long time to get people back into the town if they think it’s shut.”

Town Team spokesman Andrew Deeley said the group understood the concerns of retailers and wanted to work with them to find a solution.

He said: “Attracting people back into town centres is a problem all over the country so doing nothing is not an option.

“We believe pedestrianising the high street on Saturdays will be of long-term benefit to the shops and town as a whole.

“The timing has been unfortunate partly because the red tape involved meant we were bound to do the closure during the worst of the winter weather, when the town is at its quietest. Now we need to move forward.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be proud of Sheerness High Street. It has character and history, which can attract people into the town, so we want to work with retailers and local groups to achieve that goal.’

“Sheerness Town Team is urging anybody who wants to see a thriving town centre to attend this week’s open meeting.

“We have been out gathering the opinions of retailers, and reaching out to the very people that we need to attract into the High Street.

“We all want the same thing – a vibrant town centre – so let’s work together to achieve that.”

A spokesman for Kent County Council declined to comment, but said it was a Town Team initiative.

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