'Stoke is dying... this is hardly going to help' say town traders
TRADERS fear they could go out of business if plans to move more than 1,300 council staff from Stoke to Hanley get the go-ahead.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council last night announced ground-breaking proposals to move all staff from Stoke's Civic Centre and Swann House offices to the under-construction Central Business District in Hanley.
The authority hopes the move will stimulate trade in the city centre and kick-start plans for more companies to move into the new state-of-the-art business district.
But the project has been widely criticised by traders and residents in Stoke, who say that local businesses, who are already struggling to survive, will be hit in the pocket.
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Keith Bailey, store manager at Heron Foods grocers in Campbell Place, said: "There's nothing wrong with the civic centre, so why the move?
"All it will mean is the council staff will have to travel to Hanley and they will purchase all the things they need from Hanley.
"Stoke as a town centre is a dying area and this is hardly going to help things. Everything is focussed on Hanley.
"To put business back into Stoke would be to the benefit of everybody. The stores along this road are struggling and surely we are just as important a part of the city as anywhere.
"But there's nothing to bring people here.
"It's fair enough moving everything to Hanley but why can't they share things out a bit more?
"The open market here used to be booming but there were only four stalls there yesterday, it's terrible.
"Ten years ago it was thriving here. What are they trying to do, kill the place off altogether?"
John Baldry, assistant manager of The Famous Lion pub in Church Street, said he relied on council workers to boost his takings.
He added: "We do a tidy trade here because many of the council staff will call in on their lunch breaks or in the evenings when it's nice and sunny.
"This is not good news. It's 2,000 people who won't be using the shops, who won't be using the cafes and who won't be using the post office.
"It's what always seems to happen – they say they're regenerating one area and then they go and take two thirds of business away from it.
"It just seems like Hanley gets all the money and Stoke gets nothing."
Senthu Kandasany has just set up his businesses, Best One newsagents and an Asian foods store, in Stoke.
He said: "We already need all the help we can get.
"I'm not sure this is a step in the right direction."
Martin Brunt, of Fletcher Road, Stoke, said the plans would be the final nail in the coffin for the town.
The unemployed 39-year-old said: "I'm sick and tired of it. Stoke-on-Trent should be all about Stoke as well, not just Hanley.
"It's not going to be good for Stoke, but it's dead round here anyway.
"What about the shops? What about the cafe across the street? What are they all going to do when no one's using them anymore?"
However, not everybody has completely condemned the plans.
Margaret Hughes, a 61-year-old clinical support worker from Chesterton, said: "I don't often go to Hanley, I prefer to come to Stoke to visit the Sainsbury's.
"If this brings a boost for Hanley then I suppose it would be a good thing.
"But the council don't seem to know whether they're coming or going.
"Who knows what they're going to do next."