Castlewood move made business worse - shop owner
A LONG-STANDING businessman has closed his final shop in town, saying that the council’s Castlewood move has exacerbated tough financial conditions in the centre of Weston.
More than 500 unitary authority employees were asked to transfer to the new Clevedon base from satellite bases in the resort last year.
Many employees have now made the move, leaving Steve Berry with a depleted number of customers and a shop he had to close down on Saturday opposite the Town Hall.
He says that 80 per cent of trade at Berry’s Central Londis in The Centre used to come from North Somerset Council staff and that number has dropped off significantly after many made the move to Clevedon.
The council says after the Town Hall is refurbished to make it one of two main sites for staff, the number of employees based there will increase by about 50 per cent compared to that before the amalgamation began, but Mr Berry says it could take some time for current numbers to get back to where they were this time last year.
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The businessman, who owned five shops in the town centre at one point, admits that the council shake-up is not the only factor that has caused him to close the shop he has run for seven years.
The 51-year-old said: “The Town Hall move certainly does not help.
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“In this area of town trade has been bad for some time.
“The Town Hall issue certainly doesn’t help as at the moment the building is at least 40 per cent empty.
“A significant amount of my trade has gone to Clevedon.
“I’m not going to suggest this is the complete reason for having to shut, but we could just about keep going until staff started moving.
“One of the worst things is that Weston is about to see a revival after investment in the seafront.
“The next 10 years are going to be particularly exciting and I hope that at some stage I can be a part of that.”
A sign was up this week in the shop window telling customers that the Castlewood move was the final straw for the business.
Since 1982 Mr Berry has run a number of shops in Weston, up to five at a time at one point.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “There has been a temporary reduction in the number of people working at the Town Hall.
“Staff have continued to go to Berry’s Central Londis and support it and it is always a shame to see something like this happen to a small business.”