‘This is going to kill us’ - traders’ fury over post-lockdown planters
PUBLISHED: 08:53 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:44 27 August 2020
Town traders are furious that a series of planters have been positioned in the middle of their town centre, blocking off a number of car parking spaces.
Business owners in Reepham say around 10 of the large, grey planting troughs had been placed in Market Place, which they say will damage trade, as fewer cars can now be parked there.
But a spokesman for Broadland District Council, which installed the planters, said they helped to create socially-distanced safe spaces for people to queue for shops so they were not lining up between parked cars.
Guppy Kular, who owns Motts Pharmacy on the Market Place, said the planters in two separate parts of the square were a huge inconvenience.
Mr Kular said: “When I noticed that they were putting them in I said ‘this is going to kill us’.
“They said ‘they’re staying, but we’ll come to a compromise’ and they moved them so they took up less of the parking space. But they still take up six or seven spaces in the square and another four or five outside the pub.
“It’s something we weren’t prepared for - I just do not know why they came to the conclusion that this would be in some way helpful.”
But the Broadland spokesman said only four or five parking spaces out of the square’s roughly 50 - which were not marked out - were taken up by the planters.
The spokesman said there also continued to be free parking in nearby Station Road and Stimpson’s Place.
Reepham Town Council owns Market Place, and its chairman Les Paterson said: “The planters have been installed by Broadland District Council as part of their initiative to encourage shoppers to support local traders during the coronavirus pandemic by providing safe traffic free areas where customers could queue and observe safe social distancing.
“As owners of the Market Place were Reepham Town Council were consulted and agreed to support the initiative. Beyond supporting the Broadland initiative Reepham Town Council have had no further input in to the scheme other than being represented when the planters were installed on Friday.”
Mark Armitage, who owns the King’s Arms pub on Market Place with his partner, Lynette Tilley, said that while he understood the district council was only trying to help, the planters would just take away trade.
Mr Armitage said: “I think the early idea was to create some outside space [for people to sit] when Covid first became an issue.
“They’re now saying it’s for social distancing, but the queues at the shops have been very orderly, and they aren’t going to help.”
Mr Kular said traders would continue to object to the planters.
He said: “We’ve managed all this time to keep everybody safe and now that the council has got involved, it’s something that’s damaging us rather than being helpful.”
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