Shop owners slam social distancing barriers as sales plummet

The £105,000 project aims to offer an extra wide pathway for pedestrians but shops say it's damaging their businesses.

Shop owners slam social distancing barriers as sales plummet STV

Paisley business owners have described new social distancing barriers in front of their stores as a “farce” and say their sales have plummeted by as much as 40%.

Renfrewshire Council introduced the barriers along a 140-metre stretch of pavement on Glasgow Road as a part of a £105,000 Spaces for People project.

However businesses say they have seen their takings drop by as much as 40% since the barricades were put in place as customers cannot park their cars as they normally would in front of the stores.

Businesses including shops, takeaways, a pet store and a beauty salon are calling for the council to remove the barriers. 

They say the barriers are discouraging people from shopping in the area and could lead to shops going out of business.

Newsagent Desmond Barr has been pleading for the council to remove the barriers for several weeks. 

He said a police officer twice visited the site and told the newsagent a report would be submitted to Renfrewshire Council highlighting traffic safety issues relating to the barriers.

Mr Barr also said he received an email from Sustrans  – the walking and cycling charity who manages the Scottish Government’s grant funding for the Spaces for People programme – confirming they had also written to the council raising the issue of safety at the Glasgow Road barriers.

The barriers were put in place to widen pavements for social distancing.

Des said: “From start to finish this whole project has been a farce and the consequences of placing these barriers in Glasgow Road hasn’t been properly thought through.

“It’s hard enough for shops and businesses that serve the local community to survive Covid-19 lockdown restrictions without this new hammer blow. 

“Since these barriers have been erected I’ve seen a 40% drop in turnover. If these barriers aren’t removed, my business will become so bad I’ll be forced to close the newsagent’s shop.

“And it’s not just for business reasons these barriers should be removed. They are a safety hazard. I know of one woman who lost her footing and fell to the ground, when she tried to avoid a cyclist speeding past her as she stood on the bus border.”

Neil Gordon, of Gleddoch Butchers, said: “My takings are down 30%. Just before these barriers were put up I employed two new members of staff, but with my business being so badly affected, I’d worried that economically these two jobs are now at risk.

“It’s claimed that this new pathway will create more space, but all it has done is provide a meeting point for school pupils who gather to eat their lunch from the takeaway shops here.”

Hayley Barnes, from the So Beau beauty salon, added: “I have quite a few elderly and disabled clients who can’t come to the salon now because they can’t get parked close by.

“I’ve lost around 40% of my business since these barriers went up.”

Susanna Chan, from the Alice Chinese Takeaway, said: “These barriers have cost us a lot of business. I’ve even had customers order a takeaway by phone, but when they can’t find a parking space nearby, they’ve given up and not bothered to collect their meal.”

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear of the issues being raised in relation to temporary barriers installed to widen the footway to enable physical distancing to take place, recognising the narrow pavement at this location which is a busy area, with a secondary school nearby.

“To help clarify, neither Police Scotland nor Sustrans have raised any safety issues with us…while no lane on Glasgow Road has been removed to accommodate the barriers and access to the bus stop has been maintained.

“We appreciate the importance of having parking available to access local facilities and there is ample parking at this location, both on the opposite side and elsewhere on Glasgow Road, on adjacent streets and at off-street car parks behind some of the businesses mentioned.

“Affected businesses were visited and notified in advance of the barriers being installed and again following their implementation, with their views considered alongside a review we commissioned to consider any improvements.

“This review has highlighted no safety concerns and we will take forward its recommendations in consultation with Sustrans and local business owners, continuing to support the businesses in the area while ensuring the protection of public health remains the priority.”

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