St Albans shop owner frustrated by road closure

Owner of Masters in Light is finding the road closures is having a negative impact on his business.

Owner of Masters in Light is finding the road closures is having a negative impact on his business. Picture: Laura Bill - Credit: Archant

The owner of a city centre retail business fears social distancing measures could be the first step towards pedestrianisation.

Mike Skinner, who owns Masters in Light lighting shop, said the closure of Market Place, High Street and George Street are having a negative effect on his business.

He now fears that the measures might be extended to next March, with a view to creating a pedestrian precinct in the area.

Like many other nearby shop owners nearby, he says deliveries are a major problem.

“In the past week, I have had to pay out over £50 to have deliveries re-diverted because drivers have phoned me to say they cannot gain access to the shop and they are not willing to handball heavy boxes from three streets away.

“As a local trader I am not averse to a pedestrian precinct, however, many of the products I sell are bulky and heavy and access to the shop is a priority for my customers, especially the elderly, and this is being totally denied to them because of these closures.”

He said last week he delivered light bulbs to two Blue Badge customers who would normally drive and park outside the shop.

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Other customers have had to have their goods delivered direct to their homes at the shop’s expense, because they are unable to come and collect or carry them to their cars.

Mike does not understand how the road closures are helping fight COVID-19: “How can closing the streets to traffic promote social distancing?”

The shop owner said he feels the measures will only increase the numbers of people walking in the area.

“If this carries on, it will be impossible for me to carry on trading.

“Retail is struggling to get back to normal in the town and doesn’t need these further setbacks to worry about.”

A spokesperson for Herts county council said: ““We have put in place measures in town centres to provide more space for pedestrians and make sure that safe social distancing is possible so residents can move around in line with guidance from central government.

“We are keeping these measures under review and, where appropriate, will make changes to take account of local issues including reviewing the signage to encourage appropriate behaviour by motorists and other road users.

“There are full details about changes to town centres on our website. Anyone who would like to share their feedback on these changes can do so using the online form.”