Cllr Nigel Dugmore, speaking on behalf of the Conservative Group on the Borough Council, says:-
"As businesses in Ironbridge struggle to survive following the devastating floods at the start of the year, illogical road closures without proper consultation and the continuing impact of the Covid pandemic, Telford and Wrekin Council have delivered another body blow. The weekend pedestrian zone is to end with immediate effect!
Local business owners were charged for annual permits -allowing them to trade on the pavements - and have invested heavily in new equipment and street furniture, only to be told that after only a few weeks they must pack up and trade indoors. To comply with social distancing rules many traders can only accommodate a fraction of their previous customers. One local trader said ‘Telford and Wrekin Council have withdrawn a potential lifeline for the survival of independent traders, especially as Christmas trading will be uncertain due to the pandemic.
The excuse given by Telford and Wrekin for this cynical manoeuvre is that there are fewer visitors in the autumn and they have lots of infrastructure repairs meaning more road closures to do by next spring. It is ever more likely that there will be fewer businesses in Ironbridge next spring due to the Councils actions.
Telford and Wrekin Council really needs to get a grip and live up to being the ‘business supporting’ Council it claims to be. They could make a start by refunding the cost of the annual permits and compensate those traders that have invested in new equipment so that they could actually use the street trader licences. ‘Only being able to trade on the pavements for such a short time means that we won’t even get back the money we have paid out’ said one disgruntled trader."