High Street traders in a Kent town are making a stand against a council’s decision to close the road to cars on the busiest day of the week, claiming it is threatening their businesses.
Nine shops in Deal – including Maxted’s pet shop – have spoken out against the new measure, which means the High Street is closed to cars from 10am-2pm on Saturdays.
Deal Town Council voted unanimously for Dover District Council and Kent County Council to close its High Street to traffic between Stanhope Road and Union Road.
According to KenOnline, the restriction it is a covid-19 measure to promote social distancing and will run for only 10 weeks. It is based on a pedestrianisation consultation conducted earlier this year, which indicated removal of cars would encourage people to visit and spend more.
But traders say the consultation was not formal and have raised concerns over the impact on small businesses and a potential increase in CO2 emissions due to congestion elsewhere in the town. They have also asked for evidence that businesses supported the move.
Trades also say closure of the High Street to cars makes it hard to collect goods and deliver.
The traders affected are all small independent businesses within the north end of the town which has flourished in recent years, and which contributed to the town being named High Street of the Year in 2014.
Kent Online reports that retailers fear the measure will continue beyond 10 weeks and could result in the relocation of the Saturday Market to the High Street, giving the council more opportunity to claim revenue from Union Road car park.
On said: “All the shops pay rent and rents way above what a market stall costs and to have a stall appear outside our shops on Saturday, by far the most profitable day of the week, blocking our windows, downgrading the quality of The High Street offers, would be totally unacceptable.”