Minehead traders' "gripes list" unveiled
BEHAVIOUR of people on Butlin's adult weekends, parking, and congestion caused by the Friday's farmers market are just some of the issues raised on an eight-point 'gripe' list, issued to the council on behalf of Minehead business owners.
Minehead's chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Alex de Mendoza has been conducting an informal survey of 147 business owners in Minehead and Alcombe, asking them about their concerns in the town.
Mr de Mendoza's letter to Minehead Town Council said that the number one gripe was "by a mile" general behaviour on the High Street during Butlins adult weekends.
Another issue is whether Butlins' visitors are encouraged to use the High Street, with one Minehead business owner quoted as saying: "Butlins' patrons appear reluctant to leave the camp to shop and browse etc, and are perhaps not encouraged to?"
Butlins Minehead resort director Julian Highfield said guests were encouraged to visit the local attractions which make West Somerset such an appealing an unique place to visit.
“We aim to deliver a great experience on all our breaks, and we work closely with all the local authorities to ensure that our guests have a great time and behave themselves both on and off of resort,” Mr Highfield said.
Other issues on the list include the Friday morning Farmer's Market, which many of the survey's respondents say should be moved from the High Street to Wellington Square in order to reduce congestion, and suggestion that the Tuesday Field Market should also be moved to a more central location.
Of the 147 respondents, 143 said they were in favour of establishing a meaningful rail service to Taunton and beyond as quickly as possible due to 'poor connectivity' with the outside world.
Parking was a major complaint as well, with people saying that free on-street parking should be doubled from one hour to two, and the letter to the council suggests that both single yellow lines and expensive seafront parking should be reviewed.
Mr de Mendoza said the current measures dissuade visitors from stopping and exploring the town.
The final 'gripes' were the bus stops on the High Street which often force the buses to partly stick out into the road causing congestion, and that a play park should be built in Blenheim Garden to encourage more daytime use of the gardens and surrounding shops.
In the conclusion to his letter, Mr de Mendoza cites economics reporter Robert Peston, saying: "To reinvigorate our High Streets and enable them to flourish again, they must be made easily accessible, easy and cheap for shoppers to park and must encourage a good range of unique & independent shops.
Mr de Mendoza adds: "Pop up shops should be encouraged into long empty facilities, to provide for cheap start-up and experimentation by new traders. Long vacant shops like Threshers in Minehead in essence hold the high streets to economic ransom and must, where at all possible, be reopened."
"The town's business community is looking for action on these points as a matter of urgency after, for many, another flat trading year."
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