NEWPORT’S traders are looking to fight back against the decline of the city centre by setting up their own independent traders group.
The group met for the first time on Monday last week to discuss what they can do to counteract the steady exodus of shops from the city centre.
More than 20 independent traders met at Brew coffee shop in Station Street to discuss ideas, ranging from setting up a loyalty card scheme for shoppers to use in their stores, to creating a magazine or newsletter to publicise their businesses.
Temporary chairman of the group Paul Halliday said: “Newport city centre has continually been neglected over the past 20 years with almost no effort from the council to listen to the concerns of local traders.
“With no imagination or vision for the centre being put forward from the current administration, we decided we would have to take matters into our own hands.
“Newport will never compete with Cardiff or Bristol, but we do believe that the city can be a regional hub for independent traders.
“With the right publicity and development we know those from the surrounding areas will return to shopping in our great city. Newport already has a selection of great independent businesses that so many people don’t know about.
“Our traders are also some of, if not the, friendliest and most knowledgeable people you will meet. All we are asking for is local people to spend the time getting to know us and to support us as we try and change the fortunes of the centre.”
Paul Cotton, who co-owns Brew, said: “I know city- centre traders are feeling battered at the moment and perhaps they think this isn’t going to come to anything.
“But they are all passionate about their businesses, so if we bond together and try to do something ourselves maybe we can make a difference.
“What the council are or aren’t doing doesn’t matter, we need to do things for ourselves.”
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 12, at 5.45pm at Brew.
For more information you can email Paul Halliday on firstname.lastname@example.org
Council urges all to join forces instead
A NEWPORT council spokeswoman said: “Newport City Council has tried for some time to encourage traders to be more proactive in attracting shoppers to their businesses.
“However, we understand that the Chamber of Trade are contacting all traders about marketing incentives for shoppers following their extensive discussions with the council about delivering such schemes. We would like to see all traders and retailers working together with the Chamber of Trade and feel it would be more beneficial if they joined forces rather than attempt smaller initiatives which could lead to some confusion for shoppers.
“The council has worked hard and continues to do so to attract shoppers into the city centre.”