SHOPS have made a plea for support in a ‘forgotten’ area of Scarborough town centre.
At least four businesses in Eastborough – the Britannia pub, Pritchard’s fishing tackle shop, a craft shop on the corner of Globe Street and a small sandwich bar – are closed with others announcing closure.
The lack of shoppers venturing to the historic area has been worsened by a visit from Northern Gas which closed off roads in the area. Traders have suffered a marked drop over the past month after roadworks in Foreshore Road effectively shut it off for motorists and passing custom.
The winter months are traditionally a tough time for businesses but it has been estimated that some in the historic shopping centre have lost 25 per cent on what they would normally expect.
Brian Hewitt, who owns the Captain’s House Art Gallery, said he would expect to make £300 a day but now he was lucky to get £300 in a week and he had watched the area’s decline over a number of years.
He said: “They closed it off for more than a week without starting any work. Eastborough is completely dead. It’s a nail in the coffin for Scarborough – especially the retail trade.
“They didn’t have to close it off – I’ve been told that they could have closed one side at a time. This is a main thoroughfare. This is going to have a knock-on effect until Christmas.
“You can see the street is dead there are no cars – if there are no cars there are no people. I’m pretty sure it’s affected hundreds, if not thousands, of people by not being able to get up Eastborough.”
Rebecca Whitfield, a leaseholder at Linda Jane’s Cafe, agreed that she had suffered a drop in trade. “I just thought it was the economy and bad weather.”
She added that a lot of shops in the area did not open every day through the winter. She said: “We are open every day of the week but a lot of them aren’t but it’s always been like that since we’ve been here. It’s very sad. It’s becoming a ghost street.”
She said that a previous set of road works in the area which were supposed to last a month had dragged on for two months.
Bradley Heelbeck, the manager of the Scarborough Joke Shop which is just yards from the roadworks, said that they did a lot of business over the internet which had helped. He said: “It’s the noise – we will be glad when they are gone.
“There has been a drop in footfall, definitely, A lot of people will drive to different places – they will come here and stop outside – but now they can’t do that.”
But Cllr Janet Jefferson, who represents the Old Town and runs the Train Shop in Eastborough, said that there were a lot of specialist shops and cafes in Eastborough and they were predominantly seasonal.
She added that she had been assured that the current roadworks would be completed this week. “The current economic climate is difficult for everybody but it’s been even more difficult with the road closed because we’ve lost the passing trade,” she said.
Cllr Jefferson, who is also the president of the Scarborough Chamber of Trade and a founder of the Eastborough Traders, said that during the road closure turnover was down by a quarter. She added: “Once you’ve lost trade you don’t get it back.”
She said that the loss of a regular bus service along Eastborough, during the roadworks, had prevented a lot of elderly people who relied on it from getting to the area. She added: “We weren’t really consulted on the roadworks. They wanted it fully closed on health and safety grounds but a contraflow could’ve worked and should have worked.”
Cllr Colin Challen, who also represents the Old Town area, agreed that there had been a noticeable impact during the time roadworks had been in operation.
He added that any ideas for regeneration of the area would be in the longer term. He said: “I think that’s a question that will take a few years to resolve. There is a seasonality with some shops – they open in the summer and close in the winter.”
A Northern Gas Networks spokeswoman said yesterday: “We are due to complete work on Eastborough and Falsgrave Road ahead of schedule and we expect to fully re-open all lanes and have removed all traffic management by Friday.
“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the work but it is vital to maintaining a safe and reliable supply of gas. We have invested more than £410,000 in a major package of works to upgrade gas mains across Scarborough over the last three months.”
She added: “The traffic management on Eastborough was necessary and the only safe option open to us, it was worked out in close consultation with the council’s highways department.”