Newport council 'no help’ as shoppers stay away

Newport council 'no help’ as shoppers stay away

UNHAPPY: Austin Friars business owners Kelvin Reddicliffe and Sue Williams

POINTLESS: Sue Williams, 59, labelled the new sign 'a waste of time'

First published in News
Last updated

SHOPKEEPERS in Austin Friars, Newport, have hit out at the council for “a lack of help” following the start of demolition work to make way for the recently approved Friars Walk.

Businesses in the area such as Timpson, Elbow Room and Betty’s Cafe have seen their footfall and profits dip since demolition work began.

And they’re unhappy at the time it took the council to put signs up directing people to the area – as well as the location and size once they were put up on Wednesday evening.

Sue Williams, 59, from Usk, owns Elbow Room, a hair salon that has been on the street for 34 years.

Her custom has dipped by roughly 20 per cent in the past month alone, and she expects it to get a lot worse as the work continues.

“Not only has it taken so long to put up the signs but they are a complete waste of time,” said Mrs Williams. “It’s not going to bring any business here whatsoever.

“They’re small, obscure and in a location where you’d need to be at the shops to see it anyway.

“We wanted a sign on Commercial Street which would’ve brought business down here but once again they’ve not listened to us.

“All we want is some help and for the council to meet us to discuss a way forward but once again they don’t want to know about smaller businesses.”

Karen Hanratty, manager of Betty’s cafe, also predicts a bleak future if nothing is done. The cafe now struggles to attract 20 customers a day in a lunchtime rush, whereas it used to be more than 50.

“The only custom we get now is regulars,” said Mrs Hanratty. “We have had staff putting out our own small signs on Commercial Street but we need something permanent as these signs are easily blocked.

“If it continues like this with little support from the council then we won’t be here by the time Friars Walk is completed.”

Businesses were told that the signs would be put up shortly after work started in October but that promise wasn’t delivered until Wednesday evening.

A spokesman for Newport City Council said: “Signs have now been put up around the Friars Walk development area. We would like to apologise for the delay.

“Friars Street, Austin Friars, Corn Street and Llanarth Street – as well as those parts of John Frost Square and Upper Dock Street which are not part of the redevelopment area are still accessible from Commercial Street.”

Comments (12)

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4:12pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Lazysaint says...

Betty's cafe people you should move up to the old empty cafe opposite the new bus station ;0)
Betty's cafe people you should move up to the old empty cafe opposite the new bus station ;0) Lazysaint
  • Score: 9

4:40pm Fri 10 Jan 14

portman says...

Not as simple as shops have leased with terms which tie occupiers in.
Not as simple as shops have leased with terms which tie occupiers in. portman
  • Score: 9

4:42pm Fri 10 Jan 14

smartie40 says...

perhaps move premises onto the main commercial street where customers can see your businesses!!
plenty of lovely old shops there that are empty .
I never walk into austin friars as there is nothing there to shop for .
People walk up and down commercial street every day, they hardly walk into austin friars. make a change and ask the council for help with the premises. I am sure if you were in the customers view you would get more passing trade. hope trade improves just an idea from a customers point of view.
perhaps move premises onto the main commercial street where customers can see your businesses!! plenty of lovely old shops there that are empty . I never walk into austin friars as there is nothing there to shop for . People walk up and down commercial street every day, they hardly walk into austin friars. make a change and ask the council for help with the premises. I am sure if you were in the customers view you would get more passing trade. hope trade improves just an idea from a customers point of view. smartie40
  • Score: 7

4:51pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Practicing Pragmatist says...

I can understand this causing a drop in business for a cafe but you don't casually walk into Timpsons or a hairdressers on your way past - I only ever go to Timpson if I need a key cut or new heels, and I only visit the hairdresser if I have booked an appointment.
I can understand this causing a drop in business for a cafe but you don't casually walk into Timpsons or a hairdressers on your way past - I only ever go to Timpson if I need a key cut or new heels, and I only visit the hairdresser if I have booked an appointment. Practicing Pragmatist
  • Score: 14

5:05pm Fri 10 Jan 14

DavidMclean says...

Practicing Pragmatist wrote:
I can understand this causing a drop in business for a cafe but you don't casually walk into Timpsons or a hairdressers on your way past - I only ever go to Timpson if I need a key cut or new heels, and I only visit the hairdresser if I have booked an appointment.
You're right. Timpsons is the only place I ever go to if I need a key, but I have never simply walked in there off the street for a browse. It's not that kind of place, just as you don't just drop into a hairdressers.

As you say, not so for cafes unfortunately, which do rely on passing trade. You have to feel sorry for those guys.
[quote][p][bold]Practicing Pragmatist[/bold] wrote: I can understand this causing a drop in business for a cafe but you don't casually walk into Timpsons or a hairdressers on your way past - I only ever go to Timpson if I need a key cut or new heels, and I only visit the hairdresser if I have booked an appointment.[/p][/quote]You're right. Timpsons is the only place I ever go to if I need a key, but I have never simply walked in there off the street for a browse. It's not that kind of place, just as you don't just drop into a hairdressers. As you say, not so for cafes unfortunately, which do rely on passing trade. You have to feel sorry for those guys. DavidMclean
  • Score: 11

7:11pm Fri 10 Jan 14

merlin the silure says...

yet again traders are being let down by our clowns of a council- ncc have known this situation for a long time and only now they sort of act-SHAME ON YOU NCC
yet again traders are being let down by our clowns of a council- ncc have known this situation for a long time and only now they sort of act-SHAME ON YOU NCC merlin the silure
  • Score: 10

8:13pm Fri 10 Jan 14

inkyskin says...

I've never once had my hair cut in the elbow room, i've always gone to anthony john, they used to be in the arcade but had to move as the rent increased, always get my shoes and keys done in timpsons as for bettys cafe, never been a greasy spoon kinda person.

!st the market traders are kicking off and now it's this lot, nothing else to do but try and hang on in there until the new shopping mall is being built, all those workmen will need some place to eat surely?
I've never once had my hair cut in the elbow room, i've always gone to anthony john, they used to be in the arcade but had to move as the rent increased, always get my shoes and keys done in timpsons as for bettys cafe, never been a greasy spoon kinda person. !st the market traders are kicking off and now it's this lot, nothing else to do but try and hang on in there until the new shopping mall is being built, all those workmen will need some place to eat surely? inkyskin
  • Score: -5

9:33pm Fri 10 Jan 14

sperduti says...

well I found that hairdressers in the town centre to be expensive this is to cover the cost of the huge rates that the buisnesses have to pay the council , and to have a key cut or shoes heeled in timpsons I found dearer than meekes so we have to shop around sadly , and as for the plackard saying shopping centre this way made me laugh what shopping centre may I ask ??
well I found that hairdressers in the town centre to be expensive this is to cover the cost of the huge rates that the buisnesses have to pay the council , and to have a key cut or shoes heeled in timpsons I found dearer than meekes so we have to shop around sadly , and as for the plackard saying shopping centre this way made me laugh what shopping centre may I ask ?? sperduti
  • Score: -2

10:04pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Thinking heads says...

This were the council step in and the developer and pay compassion and relocate to keep the respect of the traders directly and unavoidably affected.
MOVE THEM AND SAVE THEM OR SIT ON YOUR HANDS AND LET THEM GO UNDER. REMEMBER IN THERE OWN LITTLE WAY THAY CONTRIBUTED TO THE LOAN YOU GAVE THE DEVELOPMENT.
This were the council step in and the developer and pay compassion and relocate to keep the respect of the traders directly and unavoidably affected. MOVE THEM AND SAVE THEM OR SIT ON YOUR HANDS AND LET THEM GO UNDER. REMEMBER IN THERE OWN LITTLE WAY THAY CONTRIBUTED TO THE LOAN YOU GAVE THE DEVELOPMENT. Thinking heads
  • Score: 2

10:54pm Fri 10 Jan 14

pbhj says...

smartie40 wrote:
perhaps move premises onto the main commercial street where customers can see your businesses!!
plenty of lovely old shops there that are empty .
I never walk into austin friars as there is nothing there to shop for .
People walk up and down commercial street every day, they hardly walk into austin friars. make a change and ask the council for help with the premises. I am sure if you were in the customers view you would get more passing trade. hope trade improves just an idea from a customers point of view.
The rental costs on commercial street are phenomenal - even despite the wealth of vacant premises (and it's probably a large part of the cause). Whilst a move to the main street could pay for a cafe - if you can attract people away from the chain stores - you're going to need a lot of capital to invest to compete (eg paying rent, rates and staff wages) whilst you fight for custom.

The problem as I see it is that there's no pressure on most landlords to ensure occupation as they've already made vast amounts based on valuations of premises and on past rentals - they don't need to dip their prices as the premises are still investments even when not occupied.
[quote][p][bold]smartie40[/bold] wrote: perhaps move premises onto the main commercial street where customers can see your businesses!! plenty of lovely old shops there that are empty . I never walk into austin friars as there is nothing there to shop for . People walk up and down commercial street every day, they hardly walk into austin friars. make a change and ask the council for help with the premises. I am sure if you were in the customers view you would get more passing trade. hope trade improves just an idea from a customers point of view.[/p][/quote]The rental costs on commercial street are phenomenal - even despite the wealth of vacant premises (and it's probably a large part of the cause). Whilst a move to the main street could pay for a cafe - if you can attract people away from the chain stores - you're going to need a lot of capital to invest to compete (eg paying rent, rates and staff wages) whilst you fight for custom. The problem as I see it is that there's no pressure on most landlords to ensure occupation as they've already made vast amounts based on valuations of premises and on past rentals - they don't need to dip their prices as the premises are still investments even when not occupied. pbhj
  • Score: 0

11:06pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Jonnytrouble says...

Nice one NCC,first you DESTROY OUR famous John Frost square chartist mural, now you apologise to these people who have lost trade, how about some comp too for them ?
So you will have your new shops ( how many years away ? ), but these hard working people will go out of business before then and we end up with more boarded ones before there built, do you care ????
Nice one NCC,first you DESTROY OUR famous John Frost square chartist mural, now you apologise to these people who have lost trade, how about some comp too for them ? So you will have your new shops ( how many years away ? ), but these hard working people will go out of business before then and we end up with more boarded ones before there built, do you care ???? Jonnytrouble
  • Score: 5

3:33pm Sat 11 Jan 14

p stani says...

I guess people do not walk down there, due to the stench from the filthy outdated toilets outside their premises.
I guess people do not walk down there, due to the stench from the filthy outdated toilets outside their premises. p stani
  • Score: 2

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