BUSINESSES in Stratford town centre fear for their future unless the temporary traffic scheme introduced during lockdown is scrapped.
A petition signed by 157 businesses – from major high street names to small independents, tourism and leisure businesses to cafes – has been sent to Warwickshire, Stratford district, and Stratford town councils respectively, together with MP Nadhim Zahawi.
Businesses say the “catastrophic traffic scheme” introduced in mid June failed on every level, from from on-street parking to pedestrian crossing points.
Courtney Gilbert, owner of Sheep Street-based Cosy Chic Pet Boutique, launched the petition.
She said: “Whilst we appreciate the difficulty in controlling the pandemic itself, this scheme is counter-productive and we are aghast at this council inflicted wound that is fast making the original injury of Covid fatal to the majority of business owners.
“The scheme has exacerbated the worst effects of Covid-19 and further reduced the amount of footfall into the town to the point that will see many businesses unable to survive. “Furthermore in our local region there is now widespread discouragement regarding visiting and shopping in Stratford due to the scheme just when we need it most.
“I also fear the scheme is in contravention of the equality act as it is severely restricting all visitors to the town centre including disabled persons who are now unable to visit the local shops.
“The council scheme has attempted to resolve a problem that never existed and left businesses with a massive problem as a result.”
Courtney said many town centre business which also had a store at the Maybird were
even considering the future for the town outlets.
She added: “I have also spoken with numerous other businesses in town who have said they are also questioning the viability of their businesses in Stratford, some of who have indeed been given deadlines for trade to improve and have stated that if improvement doesn’t happen by the given deadline they will remove their businesses from Stratford town centre.”
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is set to meet businesses to discuss their concerns tomorrow (Thursday).
A WCC spokesperson said: “We are grateful to the business community for their engagement. We are meeting with key partners including representatives from the business community as part of our ongoing review of the measures put in place.”
Mr Zahawi also acknowledged receipt of the petition.
He said: “I note a very significant number of businesses have signed the petition and I hope their views will be taken into account in the forthcoming review.”