Weston-super-Mare traders say road closures to allow social distancing aren't fair on them

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

Shop owners in Weston-super-Mare say social distancing has gone too far after the access roads to their premises have been closed to traffic.

Vehicles have not been able to drive down Regent Street for some time and now Alexandra Parade has also shut to allow people to eat outside.

Stores nearby say it is putting customers off and is causing problems with deliveries.

The independent traders next to Alexandra Parade say they weren't properly consulted on the road closure. Credit: ITV News West Country

Businessman Tony Lock says his son's Sweet Memories confectionary shop has suffered a 60% drop in trade compared to this time last year, and not being able to park nearby for deliveries is adding insult to injury.

He says the family business is far from the only one struggling.

"The guy in Palmers Butchers, they're one of the oldest traditional butchers in the town. They're saying after Christmas chances are if they can't get their deliveries he won't be here", he told ITV News.

Clare says she was barely given any warning Alexandra Parade was going to be closed to traffic. Credit: ITV News West Country

Clare Morris has run her cafe Good and Proper for more than a decade, and has found it hard enough bringing customers back since the pandemic.

Clare says she gathered a group of traders and invited the councillors on site to show how harmful it was for businesses, but it appears nothing has changed.

Miss Millies was granted a license to provide outside seating on Alexandra Parade Credit: ITV News West Country

Several roads around Weston-super-Mare town centre were pedestrianised in July to help support social distancing and allow businesses to consider on-street dining.

Regent Street, York Street, Princess Royal Square, Alexandra parade, part of St James’ Street and part of the High Street make up the new traffic free zone.

Buses no longer stop at Regent Street or Princes Royal Square to allow more space for people.

In response to the shops complaints, North Somerset Council told ITV News the road closures have been in the pipeline for some time and they have consulted at length with residents and businesses.

The go on to say deliveries are allowed before 10am and they are open to continuing conversations.

North Somerset Council's full statement:

"In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, North Somerset Council, following Government guidelines, has put in place social distancing measures to allow the general public to shop in a safe and secure environment.

"The safety of our shoppers visiting town centres is our top priority and the measures that have been put in place in Weston, Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead are situated in areas that reduce pinch points, support our local businesses and encourage shoppers to return with confidence to town centres.

"We've also introduced an outdoor seating scheme in Weston, Nailsea and Portishead, which has been incredibly popular.

"We've had close conversations with the traders in Weston town centre, changing measures where we can.

"Organisations wanting to introduce outdoor seating to their place of business can apply through a ‘fast track’ process, allowing premises to utilise outside areas for the use of eating/drinking.

"North Somerset town centre businesses have been offered extensions to their existing outside seating area at no extra cost.

"Deliveries are available for all Weston town centre businesses, before 10am. We have also offered electric cargo bikes for local outward deliveries, free of charge. The road closures are ahead of the planned pedestrianisation of that area as part of the Alexandra Parade works, which have been consulted on at great length with residents and businesses. 

"We are open to discussion and want to work with local businesses, to ensure that visitors continue to visit town centres and support our valuable local economy."