MP in call for action to help town's traders

Friday, 22 December, 2006

Town MP David Ruffley is calling for a summit meeting with the borough council over the future of Bury St Edmunds' independent shops.

Mr Ruffley, MP for Bury and Stowmarket said he was 'disturbed' by what he was told by shop owners and traders as he walked around the town on Wednesday.

He is now calling for better collaboration between St Edmundsbury Borough Council and shop owners and market traders.

The Cattle Market development is being blamed for a drop in sales during the run up to Christmas, as shoppers it is no longer convenient to walk from the car parks.

Cate Pallisser, owner of Scarlet, in The Traverse, told Mr Ruffley she had been forced to have a sale.

She said: "Our customer flow is down on last year. I'm far less busy than I thought I'd be. The market is suffering as well and some of the really good stalls are threatening to leave."

Market trader Bill Grimwood, vice-chairman of the Market Traders' Association, said he already knew of five traders who were likely to pull out next year.

Mr Grimwood said: "There are still people coming to town, but they are not actually using the market to come and shop as it's easier to go to the supermarket. What we really need is park and ride."

Shops further out of the town are also suffering. Angela Putney, joint owner of Vinch Finch, in Churchgate Street, said people would not walk that far.

She said: "People don't come down here. The development is going to take us further away. No-one's focusing on what is happening here now. All we get from the council is problems."

Mr Ruffley said: "I'm disturbed by what I'm being told. Bury should be welcoming people not making it difficult to enjoy and get in to.

"The time has come for someone to say this. We need to look at what can be done to tackle these problems."

The news comes in the same week that Suffolk Coastal District Council reduced car parking charges in Felixstowe and Woodbridge.

- There will be no Christmas Eve Market on Sunday.

St Edmunsdbury Borough Council says that following a second round of consultation, fewer than a quarter of the street traders asked were interested.