Leicester’s high street traders call for more support from city council

by Ollie Heppenstall

Traders in Leicester city centre have voiced their concerns about various restrictions which are making it harder for small businesses to survive.

Their complaints follow the admission yesterday by Save Our High Streets guru Mary Portas that she had failed to revitalise the nation’s high streets after setting out to do so in 2011.

23484687_1327100580751031_2010732724_oWith Leicester having felt the effects of various high street closures including the Fenwick department store, Irish clothing shop, jewellers Francis and Gaye and the popular restaurant Meatcure, small business traders say there is much work to be done in Leicester’s own high streets to help the businesses in them.

Some of the concerns voiced include:

  • Inadequate parking facilities and expensive public transport
  • High business rates
  • Shops and businesses needing a licence to distribute promotional material, which can be expensive

23432346_1327100557417700_1930825091_oJaya Parmar, part owner of Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe in Hotel Street, said: “It’s not a surprise that a lot of places have closed.

“People shop online thinking it’s cheaper than the high street, and the city council haven’t provided parking spaces or affordable public transport.”

Zach Elliot, who recently started working at popular milkshake bar Shakeaway, in High Street, added: “Leicester’s absolutely a place for big chain companies. The biggest problem is the council, with the business rates being so high.

“It isn’t just the council though, there are a host of issues. One of them is that businesses are charged for any sort of promotional material, and that they need licences to do so.”

23423796_1327100684084354_1879047758_oHe continued: “I used to work at Fan Club, and they spent thousands and thousands on promotional material.

“Many struggle to achieve what big businesses find easy.”

In response, a spokesman for Leicester City Council said: “Neither public transport fares nor the setting of business rates are anything that the city council has any say in – that’s down to the bus companies and the government.

“Businesses do need a licence to distribute flyers etc, and have done since 2008, but this is mainly to tackle littering caused by flyers and posters in the city centre.”

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