Easier and safer parking is top of retailers’ requests as they hope to bring customers back to the high street.
A group of Scunthorpe traders warned that something needs to be done urgently to encourage people to visit. One long-standing retailer said he wanted to see staff manning the Parishes multi-storey to deter anti-social behaviour, and the introduction of pay-on-exit tickets.
A forum for retailers is being set up in the coming weeks to make their voices heard and co-ordinate action. A recent meeting heard that ‘spending a penny to make a pound’ was vital for the town centre.
A long-standing trader said: “The high street used to be the shining jewel of Scunthorpe. Now it’s just seems like a piece of glass.
“It is frightening how things have gone downhill over the last few years. Our priority has got to be creating a safe, clean street which will attract consumers and young families back.
“A good start would be to change the Parishes to pay on exit – let people stay how long they want to stay. I can’t count how often consumers have to cut their trip short because their parking is nearly up.
“We need to take the hurdles away from people spending time here. Otherwise they will go to Doncaster or Grimsby.
“Anti-social behaviour and vandalism is also becoming a big problem in the Parishes again – I would like to see two people manning the barrier. It acts as a deterrence and makes people feel safer.
“The cost would be outweighed by the amount of damage that would be prevented. We need to spend a penny to make a pound.”
Council leader councillor Rob Waltham told the traders that the council would look into the suggestions. The car park has recently had its CCTV upgraded, with a voice feature to speak directly to people committing anti-social behaviour.
“The issues that we are seeing aren’t unique to Scunthorpe. They’re becoming common in lots of towns,” he said.
“We’ve got to get confidence back in the high street. The Town Deal board is looking into acquiring some of the larger empty units that shops are never going to be interested in.”
The trader’s forum is set to be held on the last Tuesday of each month, starting from April. Retailers will attempt to contact each shop in the town centre with details of the time and venue over the next few weeks.
The meeting also praised a recent planning committee decision to stop an out-of-town Starbucks drive-thru being built on the Kingsway. The proposals, which were rejected earlier this month, were described as “very damaging to the town centre”.