Re­port re­veals view of busi­nesses to trial clo­sure of busy town route

Glo­ri­ous Glouces­ter­shire Linda Cook took this pic­ture in Im­pe­rial Gar­dens, Chel­tenham

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - Leigh BOOBYER [email protected]­

AMAJORITY of busi­nesses sur­veyed in Chel­tenham’s town cen­tre have re­ported re­duced turnover be­cause of the trial clo­sure of Boots Cor­ner, a leaked sur­vey shows.

A leaked re­port found 52 per cent of busi­nesses are re­port­ing a de­crease since the junc­tion closed to unau­tho­rised ve­hi­cles in June 2018.

The sur­vey, con­ducted by Chel­tenham Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict (BID), also found that six per cent of busi­nesses felt that the pi­lot clo­sure has positively im­pacted the amount of shop­pers com­ing into their stores.

Of the 531 busi­nesses in the BID zone, just 28 re­sponded to the sur­vey some­thing which the leaked re­port said is “fairly con­sis­tent” with the levels of en­gage­ment the BID re­ceives from sur­veys and is “maybe lower than de­sir­able”.

Chel­tenham BID direc­tor Ke­van Black­ad­der said the or­gan­i­sa­tion is “con­cerned about the ef­fects that the trial is hav­ing on some of our busi­nesses”.

The trial scheme be­gan last June, ban­ning gen­eral traf­fic from us­ing the route as part of Chel­tenham Bor­ough Coun­cil-led scheme to make the town cen­tre more pedes­trian friendly.

Only ex­empt ve­hi­cles, such as buses and taxis, can pass through.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether to make the pi­lot clo­sure per­ma­nent will be made this De­cem­ber by Glouces­ter­shire County Coun­cil’s traf­fic reg­u­la­tion com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the sur­vey “strug­gled to find pos­i­tive feed­back”.

The re­sponses of the busi­nesses were bro­ken down into six ar­eas: Mont­pel­lier; Clarence Street and Clarence Pa­rade; Prom­e­nade; Re­gent Ar­cade; High Street; and the Brew­ery Quar­ter.

No busi­nesses have been named in the re­port.

The re­port said the only area which has not been neg­a­tively im­pacted by trial in terms of cus­tomers, staff and de­liv­er­ies was the Brew­ery Quar­ter.

When asked what di­rect im­pact has the trial clo­sure had on cus­tomers and their choice to visit the BID’S stores, 68 per cent felt that shop­pers to their busi­ness have been neg­a­tively im­pacted, the re­port said.

In Mont­pel­lier, all busi­nesses’ turnover has de­clined and 60 per cent of them said the trial had a neg­a­tive im­pact on how eas­ily peo­ple are able to get to them.

The doc­u­ment comes as a study into foot­fall in the town cen­tre found more peo­ple are vis­ited the high street de­spite a na­tional five per cent drop late last year.

The bor­ough coun­cil said it looks to approach ev­ery­thing in an open and transparen­t way, adding some data comes from in­de­pen­dent sources.

The re­port said: “The gen­eral con­sen­sus from busi­nesses was that cus­tomers, staff and de­liv­er­ies have all been neg­a­tively im­pacted across the whole of the BID zone, with the only

ex­cep­tion be­ing the Brew­ery Quar­ter.

“Con­cerns have been voiced re­gard- ing in­creased travel times, with many re­port­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in find­ing suit­able car park­ing spa­ces and the pub­lic trans­port sys­tem be­ing un­suit­able for the night time econ­omy.

“This di­rect neg­a­tive im­pact on cus­tomers is hav­ing a no­tice­able effect on foot­fall and more wor­ry­ingly on the levels of trade it­self with some long­stand­ing busi­nesses re­port­ing a de­cline in busi­ness of 20 to 30 per cent since the start of the trial.”

Chel­tenham BID said busi­nesses will be sur­veyed again in Septem­ber when they have set­tled into re­cent changes to the trial, in­clud­ing mak­ing Clarence Pa­rade and the western end of Clarence Street open to all ve­hi­cles with two-way traf­fic flow.

Mr Black­ad­der said: “The rea­son the BID has not shared the de­tails publicly is that the sur­vey was car­ried out on the ba­sis that the in­for­ma­tion re­ceived was col­lected to in­form the bor­ough coun­cil.

“I can con­firm that the vast ma­jor­ity of those who re­sponded said they had been neg­a­tively im­pacted as a re­sult of the trial clo­sure.

“The BID is con­cerned about the ef­fects that the trial is hav­ing on some of our busi­nesses and made that clear when we pre­sented the in­for­ma­tion to the coun­cil.

“The BID has made var­i­ous rec­om­men­da­tions to the coun­cils after con­sul­ta­tions with BID busi­nesses, some of which have al­ready been im­ple­mented to im­prove the trial scheme for busi­nesses and to mit­i­gate the im­pact of the trial.”

Coun­cil­lor An­drew Mckin­lay (LD, Up Hather­ley), cab­i­net mem­ber for de­vel­op­ment and safety on the bor­ough coun­cil, said: “We would like to thank the BID for shar­ing these re­sults with us and we wel­come the feed­back that has been pro­vided.

“We would have liked more than 5 per cent of busi­nesses to have com­pleted the sur­vey sowe will look to wel­come fur­ther feed­back from the busi­ness com­mu­nity to en­sure we get a wide as pos­si­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“I would en­cour­age all busi­nesses, com­mu­nity groups and res­i­dents to pro­vide their feed­back us­ing the on­line sur­vey which will be live for the re­main­der of the trial.’’

A spokesman for Mr Chalk said: “These re­sults are dev­as­tat­ing, and ex­plode the myth that this bun­gled scheme is good for lo­cal busi­nesses.

“It has al­ready cost mil­lions of pounds in tax­pay­ers’ money and fines on hard-pressed mo­torists.

“In­stead of throw­ing good money after bad, the bor­ough coun­cil should scrap the trial, and fo­cus on the real pri­or­i­ties for our town - youth fa­cil­i­ties, street clean­ing and im­prov­ing re­cy­cling.”

For more on the re­port, visit glouces­r­ershire­

I would en­cour­age all to pro­vide feed­back us­ing the on­line sur­vey

Coun­cil­lor An­drew Mckin­lay

✒ NEXT year I’ll be cel­e­brat­ing 30 years work­ing as a doc­tor in our NHS (20 years work­ing in Glouces­ter­shire) and look­ing back I am very grate­ful and proud to have been part of such a won­der­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion.

It isn’t per­fect but it is very pre­cious and we must never take it for granted, espe­cially now.

That is why I am in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the threat to our NHS of leav­ing the Eu­ro­pean Union, espe­cially with no deal.

I am not alone in this and Brexit, and in par­tic­u­lar a no deal Brexit, is felt by the BMA and the vast ma­jor­ity of doc­tors to be very dam­ag­ing for the NHS.

Over the years, I have worked with fan­tas­tic col­leagues from all over Eu­rope who have cho­sen to work in our NHS and make this coun­try their home.

Bri­tish doc­tors ben­e­fit from exchange pro­grammes to cen­tres of ex­cel­lence in Eu­rope and be­ing part of the EU has made this exchange of tal­ent and knowl­edge seam­less.

There are ap­prox­i­mately 11,000 doc­tor and 24,000 nurs­ing va­can­cies in this coun­try due to a re­cruit­ment cri­sis and the big­gest group of for­eign NHS work­ers are from Eu­rope.

Ap­pli­ca­tions have slumped since Brexit and many of the Eu­ro­pean doc­tors, nurses and al­lied health pro­fes­sion­als who are al­ready here are leav­ing.

The UK has a fan­tas­tic record in med­i­cal re­search and at­tracts many of the most promis­ing re­searchers in the world , as we are able to par­tic­i­pate in large mul­ti­cen­tre Eu­ro­pean tri­als.

As a re­sult of our record, we re­ceive much more back in re­search grants than we put into the EU’S re­search pro­gramme.

No won­der then that Sir Paul Nurse, ge­neti­cist and No­bel prize win­ner, has said that Brexit, and in par­tic­u­lar a No Deal Brexit, will be a dis­as­ter for sci­en­tific re­search in this coun­try.

With re­gard to medicines, cur­rently these can flow in and out of the UK due to fric­tion­less trade with the EU and this keeps costs down (vi­tal for the NHS) and al­lows us all to ben­e­fit promptly from newer and more costly treat­ments.

The sup­ply of ra­dioiso­topes, not made in the UK but vi­tal to the treat­ment of can­cer, de­pends on our mem­ber­ship of Eu­ratom and the EU.

There is a real risk that access to these will be dis­rupted, par­tic­u­larly in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

We are al­ready start­ing to see sup­ply is­sues with some medicines.

Fi­nally, in the event of a No Deal Brexit, well over a mil­lion of­ten el­derly Bri­tish ex pats in Eu­rope will lose the re­cip­ro­cal health­care ben­e­fits which they so rely on.

There is wide­spread con­cern and alarm in the NHS.

This is the first time I have ever writ­ten to a news­pa­per and I am do­ing so now be­cause I am so wor­ried we are sleep­walk­ing to a dis­as­ter for our NHS.

Boots Cor­ner at the start of the clo­sure

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