Local businesses have been hit hard by the controversial three-month closure of St Peter’s Bridge. Repairs started on 29th August and are due to finish at the end of November but local traders have been struggling due to the sharp drop in trade.
In his capacity as vice president of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, Chris Else organised an urgent roundtable meeting so those impacted could air their views and discuss possible solutions. The meeting, held on 28th September, was attended by around 30 businesses with Andrew Griffiths, MP, and the Leader and the CEO of the Borough Council, Richard Grosvenor and Andy O’Brien, also being present.
Local businesses explained how the closure of St Peter’s Bridge had impacted them with many worried about a lack of customers and the affect on the town centre in general. Numerous solutions were discussed at this positive meeting with many now being implemented.
Recognising that there had been unintended consequences caused by the closure of St Peter’s Bridge that have had a harmful for local businesses, The Council has already introduced a number of measures. These include free parking at its on-street parking bays in Lichfield Street and Manor Croft. It is also planning to hold a business event to promote the town before Christmas to encourage shoppers back into the centre. The council has also started a hardship relief scheme for which businesses impacted by the closure can apply.
Many motorists are by-passing areas where there are congested traffic and choosing alternative travel plans. This has reduced the traffic into the town and business turnover has been affected. While congestion remains a concern, the Chamber of Commerce is suggesting practical ways that it can be improved.
The repairs are on schedule. Unfortunately, due to the complex nature of the work and safety constraints, working overnight is not possible. However, everything is being done to speed them up.
Repairs on the Burton Bridge, due to start in January 2018, have now been postponed until the summer. This will give affected businesses time to recover and allow detailed plans to be put in place to minimise congestion problems.
Chris Else, who is also Managing Partner of Else Solicitors, said “It is good to see the business community working closely with their local representatives to find effective solutions to this situation. I am delighted to see that the Council has quickly implemented some of the ideas discussed at the meeting and that there is a continuing dialog to help local businesses through this difficult period. We will continue to lobby Staffordshire County Councillors to ensure the survival of the businesses affected and that proper consultation talks are held before to the next phase of works commence.”
The businesses that were in attendance were:
Octagon Shopping Centre
H J Richards Jewellers
G C Hardwick & Sons
Ooh My Goth
Tommys Fish Bar
Why Not Gallery
Café Zen + Good News