TRADERS are banding together to call for a cut in their business rates following a dramatic reduction in footfall.
The campaign has been set up by retailers in Newgate Street, Morpeth.
The street was formally at the heart of the town, but businesses say that since the opening of Sanderson Arcade and the loss of nearby car parks, the focus has shifted.
And they fear that the new Morrisons’ store at Dark Lane will make the situation even worse.
Chartered surveyor Barry Tait is submitting appeals to the District Valuer to have shops re-assessed and bring about a reduction in business rates.
He said: “The current values go back to 2008, but what we have at the moment is a set of exceptional circumstances. Newgate Street used to be a busy street. Now the focus has shifted to Sanderson Arcade and the only car park anywhere near is the little one at Back Riggs. That has hit trade significantly.
“We are submitting appeals to the District Valuer. There are 17 businesses in the group, but each one has to be done individually. After that the District Valuer will contact me and we will talk about what we want.”
Cynthia Fair, of F H Hardy florists, said: “We think the whole street should be re-graded because there is no clear direction to the street and there is nowhere to park. It is going to get worse with the new supermarket. We are definitely going to be the backwater.”
Linda Morris, of Linmor Direct, added: “Trade has just deteriorated. People go straight from Sanderson Arcade to Bridge Street and there is no natural flow to us. The heart of the town has moved. Trade has gone down here over the last two or three years, in some cases by 10 per cent.”
And Alan Smith, of E Price fruit shop, said: “This is no longer the main retail shopping area of the town so we should be re-rated accordingly. If the county council wants to protect local businesses then it is going to have to help otherwise there won’t be any independent businesses left in the town.”