Felixstowe: Shop owner blames shared space for shop closure
The owner of a Hamilton Road shop which is set to close down has today levelled the blame at the shared space scheme.
Hallmark and Thorntons, which has been in the area for 26 years, has gone into liquidation along with Hallmark shops in Woodbridge and Dereham in Norfolk.
Peter Whiteman, owner of the stores, placed a sign in his window blaming the scheme for the three closures because of the loss of customers in Felixstowe.
Under the �2.8million scheme, pedestrians and cars share Hamilton Road and parking is available only for disabled drivers.
He said: “The reason the company has gone into liquidation is because of the downturn in the Felixstowe store which we have seen since the start of the roadworks in 2010.
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“I would accept that there’s a recession, but the recession is nationwide not just a Felixstowe issue – the other two stores were level on last year.
“This is not the first store to close since the shared space scheme has finished – whether it will be the last I don’t know.”
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The sign in Mr Whiteman’s window claimed 21 people will be made redundant because of the situation and was spotted by eagle-eyed Star reader Keith Smith, who called the sign ‘shameful’.
He said: “While I have sympathy with the staff who are to lose their jobs, to blame it on the mayor and Town council is, in my opinion shameful.”
The sign has now been removed. Suffolk Coastal District Council have dismissed Mr Whiteman’s claims that the scheme is behind the closure.
They said they will do all they can to ensure jobs increase in the town.
A spokesman for the council said: “Obviously, any loss of jobs or shop closure is a concern to the council and we can only hope that a rescue package can be mounted by someone to take over this prestigious franchise, either in our district or across the whole county.
“Suffolk Coastal will continue its efforts to encourage economic growth and job creation in our district, whether specifically in Felixstowe through the specialist Felixstowe Futures team, or our support for the many community-led initiatives that are making a real difference in other parts of the district.”
Mr Whiteman said: “I would like to thank all our loyal customers for the support they have given us over the past 26 years.”
Do you think the shared space scheme is to blame for the closure? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or you can e-mail eveningstarletters@evening star.co.uk.