Ebbw Vale traders claim council is ruining Christmas trade
2:50pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
EBBW VALE business owners are claiming Blaenau Gwent council is ruining Christmas business for them due to the ongoing roadworks.
Keith Pritchard, 58, from Ebbw Vale, has owned Sweets and Things on Bethcar Street for almost three years. His partner Zoe Powell, 57, also from Ebbw Vale, runs the Pins and Things shop a few doors down. She has had a shop in the town for 17 years.
They believe the “excessive” works taking place in and around the town is preventing them from getting their usual amount of Christmas business.
Ms Powell said: “Since all the works started I’m seeing a 20 per cent decrease in the number of buying customers in a week. Where normally I could expect about 350 a week, I’m not even hitting 300 at the moment. It’s costing me hundreds of pounds a month. It’s not just us – everyone I’ve spoken too is seeing a similar drop in numbers, its affecting us all.”
Mr Pritchard said: “During the work on Bank Square the contractors have placed temporary barriers across the road on Fridays. We have seen numerous people turn back because they thought the road was closed. What hope do we and all the other shops have?”
The couple says the town is hampered by excessive roadworks and claim this has had a dramatic effect on businesses in the town centre.
The works in the town are scheduled to finish next year.
The couple say the council’s decision to install a four-metre stainless steel Celtic Dragon in the town on December 20 is jeopardising the best trading day of the year.
The Bank Square project is being delivered as part of the European Convergence Ebbw Vale Town Centre Regeneration Programme.
A Blaenau Gwent spokeswoman confirmed that on Friday, December 20, the dragon will be installed as the main street will be closed for the weekly Friday market anyway. The council says businesses will not be affected as the road will be blocked only while the dragon is being installed, and the footpaths will remain open.
But Ms Powell disagrees. She said: “The council are jeopardising what is potentially our best trading day of the year, the last market day before Christmas. We have pointed out to them that this is our Black Friday, but they don’t care.
“We have asked the council project managers if the dragon could be installed on Friday December 13 or Monday, December 23, when there is an extra market therefore the road is closed, or even on a Sunday. Their answer is emphatically ‘no’. They are just being ridiculous, We are completely exasperated by their lack of common sense.”
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