Street work 'destroying trade'
TRADERS say they are being left out of pocket by a scheme to improve the appearance of the city centre and boost trade.
Businesses on Percy Street and Tontine Street claim visitors have plummeted because of construction work to pedestrianise the area as part of a £7 million scheme to update Hanley's open spaces.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has rolled out the multi-million pound initiative in a bid to revitalise some of the city centre's more dated areas and to create improved public space.
But shop owners say that the project is already behind schedule and claim customers are being put off visiting the area due to the ongoing construction work.
Contractors are currently renovating Percy Street with pedestrians being directed through a walkway while work to overhaul the pavements is ongoing.
Salvatore Giuliano runs barbershop The Godbarber, on Percy Street.
The 44-year-old, of Stallington, said: "Since the works I have seen trade drop by 30 to 40 per cent as we are missing out on passing custom.
"We are just about managing as we do have our regular customers and will just have to get on with it but it is really affecting trade in this area.
"I realise that the council will say they have to speculate to accumulate but at the moment all this work is just putting shoppers off."
Concerned business owners also claim they have been given forms to apply to the authority for compensation over lost revenue.
Andy Witham, who opened mobile phone shop Fonehouse, on Tontine Street in the middle of September, said the work had 'destroyed trade.'
The 46-year-old, of Packmoor, said: "I am sure it will look great when it is finished but we are still being affected by the works and it must be about 10 weeks behind schedule.
"The work outside the front of my shop was only finished last week.
"Until then I hadn't been able to put out any signs advertising the store because there was only just enough room for someone to walk along the pathway.
"People heading towards the bus station, for example, are bypassing this road altogether because of the works. It is destroying trade."
Andy Bagnall, who runs Tontine Street-based Natural Beauty Day Spa with sister Kay Webb, said: "Because of the drop in trade there have been times where we have had to send staff home early.
"It seems they have started on different roads without ever finishing one where it would have seemed logical to fully complete one before moving on to the next.
Andy, of Trentham, added: "I am grateful that the council agreed not to put benches outside the salon but I just want to see these works completed."
The council has confirmed it will roll out a 'full carriageway closure' along Tontine Street and Percy Street for nine days from December 3.
Andy Norman, a senior engineer for the authority said: "During the works pedestrian access will be maintained to all businesses.
"A representative from the contractors will be in contact with individual premises to agree on specific requirements for service and deliveries."
Other changes in the area will see improvement work to Albion Square and Parliament Square.
The council hopes the overhaul – which will see the provision for open air events along with better street furniture – will complement the new £15 million bus station.