Town centre businesses struggling due to new social distancing measures

Palmers Butchers.

Palmers Butchers. - Credit: Archant

An independent business in Weston town centre has warned it could be forced to close permanently if it cannot collect deliveries.

A road closure and social distancing measures around Alexandra Parade have affected Winnie’s Bakery, Palmers Butchers, Good and Proper Café, Caboodle Jewellers, Sultans and others as delivery drivers are forced to park elsewhere or face fines and parking tickets.

Deliveries must be made before 10am, after which time fines and tickets can be introduced, but with an influx of traders vying for the same spots, and loading bays lost due to outdoor seating at Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken shop, some are struggling to take their deliveries.

Palmers Butchers, in Meadow Street, which has been trading for more than 50 years, has warned it could shut if matters do not change.

Director Tim Gardner told the Mercury: “If we can’t get our beef carcass into the shop then we will have to close completely.

“You simply cannot carry a 150kg carcass across Alexenadra Parade, we need a permit so drivers can park outside our store.

“I don’t have a problem with having to park further away for lighter deliveries, but our businesses relies on high quality meat, which we need to bring in fresh.

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“I am fighting for my shop and my drivers.”

Several town centre streets were pedestrianised by North Somerset Council in July to help support social distancing and allow businesses to dine al-fresco.

Regent Street, York Street, Princess Royal Square, Alexandra Parade, part of St James’ Street and part of the High Street make up the new traffic-free zone.

Buses no longer stop at Regent Street or Princes Royal Square to allow more space for people.

A spokesman for Caboodle said: “These restrictions are taking all the spaces up and customers away, usually we would have 10 to 12 parking spaces, people pay their 20p for 20 minutes so they can nip into the butchers, the green grocers, grab a coffee, but all that has gone.

“We are all losing customers, what has been put in place is an eyesore.”

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the council, following Government guidelines, has put in place social distancing measures to allow the general public to shop in a safe and secure environment.

“The safety of our shoppers visiting town centres is our top priority and the measures that have been put in place in Weston are situated in areas that reduce pinch points, support our local businesses and encourage shoppers to return with confidence to town centres.

“We’ve been in close conversation with the traders in Weston town centre, changing measures where we can.

“Deliveries are available for all Weston town centre businesses, before 10am. We have also offered electric cargo bikes for local outward deliveries, free of charge.

“The road closures are ahead of the planned pedestrianisation of that area as part of the Alexandra Parade works, which have been consulted on at great length with residents and businesses.

“We are open to discussion and want to work with local businesses, to ensure that visitors continue to visit town centres and support our valuable local economy.”