'Burslem Alliance' formed as traders seek to halt decline
TRADERS have united to tackle the decline of a town and attempt to improve business.
Business owners in Burslem have formed the Burslem Alliance after claiming the town's footfall is in decline and parking in the area is deterring customers.
Alliance chairman Janet Machin, who runs Okay Flowers in the town has sent letters to businesses and individuals appealing for funding to support the group's work.
She said: "The remaining retail in the town continues to struggle - shops open and close within months.
"Numerous people have tried to address the losses that Burslem has endured such as the library, the indoor market and weekly market.
"The parking strategy continues to act as a deterrent to footfall.
"In the past there have been various proposals and masterplans and a vast amount of funding has been spent on the regeneration of Burslem. But there has been little evidence of positive commercial results."
Mrs Machin says the Burslem Alliance will look to take up issues which are raised by traders, residents and visitors to the town.
In April, traders launched a petition calling on Stoke-on-Trent City Council to offer free parking to boost trade.
While Burslem's night-time economy is booming, retailers say the area is struggling during the day.
Jason Miller, who runs Miller's Butchers on Queen Street, said: "I look at somewhere like the Wedgwood Institute and think if that was turned into a call centre it would bring about 200 people to Burslem.
"It would be a real boost to the town and would help us.
"In the past I have seen plans of how the market could look if it was turned into a shopping centre and the designs were fantastic but nothing has ever happened."
Jason, whose father Fred has owned the shop for 25 years, added: "The council decided to take away parking on Queen Street, widen the pavements and paint double yellow lines.
"I would like to see the spaces brought back. They should offer them as free parking short-stay parking bays where people can just nip in to the shops. If they need to stay for longer then there is parking available on the square."
Licensee Dan Maddox has recently taken on The Roebuck on Wedgwood Place.
The venue was closed for six months before Trust Inns invested £60,000 in refurbishing the pub.
Dan, aged 28, who previously ran Newcastle's Ikon bar, said: "Everybody is aware that the day-time trade is slow in Burslem.
"Businesses need to pull together and do what they can. There is no reason why Burslem can't be like somewhere such as Newcastle.
"Burslem is an attractive area, it has just fallen by the way side.
"I think some free car parking would be a good idea. There is council parking outside my business and it is expensive. I don't understand why it isn't free at night."