Traders blame Pontypool scheme for slump
6:10pm Thursday 3rd January 2013 in News
CHRISTMAS SLUMP: Gaynor James standing at the entrance to Commercial Street where traders are blaming regeneration work
TRADERS in Pontypool are blaming regeneration works undertaken by Torfaen council for their drop in Christmas trade.
The work is part of a £10 million scheme set to transform the heart of Pontypool by making it more accessible to shoppers.
However, the works surrounding the shops on George Street, continued until December 10, which trader’s say made Christmas shoppers go elsewhere.
Owner of the shop Individuality, Gaynor James, said: “Customers told me they went elsewhere to shop because they couldn’t stand the noise and dust. I rely on December to get me through the quiet period in January, but this year, Christmas didn’t happen.”
Mrs James said in the first three weeks of December, she was down 62 per cent, losing her £2,000.
She added: “I understand that the job had to be done and it does look lovely now.”
Owner of a bike repair shop Cogworkz Bikeshop, Chris Morris, said: “It is irresponsible of the council to have had the works finish so close to Christmas.”
Mr Morris said his shop, which has been open just over a year, was behind barriers surrounding the works from October to December 10, which he felt put potential customers off.
Over the summer, the shop was averaging 100 customer sales a month. In the last two weeks of November, there were whole days without any sales and in December, there were roughly 50.
He said: “I realised that local people, due to the works, had decided to do their Christmas shopping elsewhere.”
Acouncil spokesman said the decision to allow the contractors to run into the first 10 days of December was not made lightly but it was felt that pulling contractors off site when there were only minor works remaining would have a detrimental impact on the project budget, town centre operations and further inconvenience traders and shoppers.
He added: “A letter was sent to all traders located within the project boundary stating that the works would not be finished until December 10.”
Two traders have submitted letters of complaint, which are being dealt with formally by the council.
‘Not enough shops, so we go elsewhere’
PONTYPOOL residents June Burton and Pat and Howard Jones are all regular shoppers in the town centre.
Mr Jones said: “Our main concern is that there is a lack of shops in the centre to take advantage of the regeneration work.”
Mrs Jones added: “It has potential but more needs to be done to revive it. We did most of our Christmas shopping in Cardiff and on the internet as there is no choice of shops in Pontypool.”
John and Beryl Thomas said: “It looks lovely now that the work is done, but there are simply not enough shops. We did our Christmas shopping in Cwmbran as there is plenty of parking and under shelter.”