Traders shut up shop in city's 'hidden' road

Businesses are being forced to close because no-one knows where they are.

Traders in Winckley Street, off Fishergate, Preston, claim they are suffering for a lack of trade.

Moves to pedestrianise Winckley Street and encourage shoppers will come into force from Monday, but for some traders, the step is too late.

Designer Rebecca Blundell is closing her womenswear shop after three years.

The Shoe Salon next door is also moving out and other traders are calling for help to improve.

Today, Julia Horn, general manager for the Preston and District Chamber of Trade, said members of the chamber were keen to see new signs erected on Fishergate, pointing shoppers to what the side streets hold.

She also said the chamber backed seeing Fishergate being turned into a pedestrian-only zone.

Attempts to signpost the shops from Fishergate had been thwarted because the advertising A-boards placed on the main street are illegal and are removed by the council.

Rebecca Blundell, who makes her own clothes and runs a shop on Winckley Street, said she was sad to be leaving on Monday.

The 28-year-old said: "I'm sad but it's a constant struggle and a fight to carry on. I'm relieved as well because it's really hard work.

"It's a dream location but it's hard dragging people down here. All the side street traders probably feel the same.

"Pedestrianisation would make this little street really cosmopolitan. Bars could have their tables and chairs out."

Julia Horn from the Chamber of Trade, said the chamber had been in talks for some time to promote the businesses.

She said: "We've got to encourage the number of people passing the shops.

"We just feel some sort of method that will be encouraging and that fits in with the city image will be a good idea.

"We want to keep those small, specialist shops in Preston to make it a unique place."

She said members also wanted to see more pedestrian zones and has suggested cars be banned from Fishergate between Cheapside and Lune Street.

Coun Andy Campbell, executive member for environment and sustainability, said a complete car ban was not possible at the moment.

He said: "We don't want to make any knee-jerk reactions to city centre issues.

"We are waiting for the Tithebarn project to firm up in about six to 12 months and then we will assess the traffic situation for the centre as a whole.

"We can't make any decisions about traffic issues until we know where the new bus station is going to go."

Members of Preston City Centre Management are trying to get funding for a sign scheme.

In addition, from Monday, cars will be banned from Winckley Street between 9am and 5pm every day, although vehicles will still be able to gain access to off-street parking spaces.

It is hoped businesses such as The City Deli will be able to put tables out on the street to encourage a cafe culture.

Manager Tracey Curley, 32, said: "A lot of people don't know these places are here. It needs more advertisement."

The shops due to close will be replaced with a printers, Printsave, due to move from Eldon Street, Plungington, Preston, and security firm, New City Security.

e-mail: emma.broom@lep.co.uk