Saturday, 23 April 2011

Second Busiest Weekend of the Year and They Close Our Street Again

At The Wine Shop, in Russell Street, Leek, Saturdays are busy.  Easter Saturdays are incredibly busy, so busy in fact that they are second only to December Saturdays. Busy that is unless the Town Council and, ironically, the Leek Chamber of Trade, decide to shut the street to accommodate it's very own St Georges Day celebrations.

I'm all for the town's people celebrating what ever they like, The Royal Wedding, Christmas Lights Switch on, Club Day, Leek 800, Leek Show, or St Georges Day as long as it works along side local businesses, I don't even expect the events to help local businesses but I do expect these events to avoid having a detrimental affect on the trade of local businesses at all cost.

In the last two or three weeks or so, I've been hearing more and more people commenting that it feels like this recession has only just begun and that it is going to get worse before it will get better. As a small business, we are certainly finding this to be the case. No individuals like Councillor Steve Povey or Mike Cozens, or any organisation such as the Chamber of Trade or indeed the Town Council should be allowed to ever come close to having a negative effect on it's local businesses especially in such desperate conditions.

And so, Steve Povey, Mike Cozens, the Chamber of Trade and the Town Council got their way. They closed Russell Street, and the top of Derby Street to traffic today. What for? So that an actor can ride up Derby street sat on a white horse dressed as St George, so that a man could display his owls, and a couple of local organisations could set up their fund raising stalls. These could have been shunted a few yards up the street on to the pedestrianised part of Derby Street and our one way street could have remained open. Cars could have parked, people could have ran into town shops for provisions instead of being turned away at the bottom of the street and redirected to....Morrisons...where the cars were queuing right up to the Leek Road. The very people who organised today's event protest about Sainsburys coming to town, and protest about the road changes that will inevitably come, and shout 'save our town'. When independent shops begin to close in Leek, it won't be because of Sainsburys who will simply take market share from Aldi, Morrisons, Coop, and Netto, when those shops begin to close it will be down to you Povey, you Mr Cozens, you Leek Chamber of Trade and to you Leek Town Council. Leave us retailers to worry about Sainsburys, let us give the town an independent presence, don't pretend you are doing us a favour by arranging these events just let us get on with keeping our heads above water in these incredibly tough times.

We preach to the people of Leek, begging them to shop local, and then we close the town off to them and play right in to the hands of Morrisons who are loving it.

Traffic in town was horrendous because of the street closures. Those vehicles trying to turn up Russell Street added to the gridlock and those trying to pass through Leek to enter the Peak District will only remember Leek for the misery it hat to go through to get away from it.

I'm sure the ice cream man sold a lot more ice cream. I'm sure the coffee shop sold a few more cups of coffee. But our trade was obliterated, I don't mean we were 10% down, I don't mean 20% down, I mean that up until 1pm today, we'd sold £60 worth of goods where on a normal day we'd have sold £600 and on Easter Saturday more like £1000. And that stock that we ordered in to achieve those sells sits on the shelf, and the corresponding invoice requires paying.

Leek needs tow worry about some of it's Councillors, shops opening on Thursdays, not closing our streets and radical things like that before it worries about Sainsburys.

Save Our Leek