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SPELL DOOM: Street trader’s fears over vehicle ban

SPELL DOOM: Street trader’s fears over vehicle ban

Newcastle greengrocer Albert Sayers at his stall in Northumberland Street, Image: NCJ Media

A veteran Newcastle trader fears that a major redesign of the city centre will spell doom for stallholders on Northumberland Street.

Albert Sayers has warned that pollution-cutting plans being pursued by Newcastle City Council could have a devastating impact on the area’s remaining street trader community.

Transport chiefs want to remove almost all traffic from the Blackett Street bus route in order to make the city centre’s main shopping areas into a “cleaner, greener and more welcoming” space, a move that has proved unpopular with public transport operators and could yet be the subject of a public inquiry.

But linked to that traffic-cutting proposal are further measures to also ban delivery vehicles from accessing surrounding streets between 8.30am and 10pm.

The restriction would apply to Northumberland Street, Blackett Street, New Bridge Street West, Pilgrim Street (north), and to the sections of Grey Street and Grainger Street around Grey’s Monument.

Mr Sayers, whose fruit and veg stall was a fixture on Northumberland Street for decades until the pandemic hit last year, says the measures are “just unworkable” as they will force small, independent traders into working extreme hours.

The council had originally proposed cutting off deliveries from 7am and had included the area around the Grainger Market in the restrictions, before relaxing that stance following complaints in early 2020, but Mr Sayers says that forcing traders to wait until 10pm to clear away their stalls for the night would still be too much to bear.

The well-known trader said: “We only have five members left of the Barrow Traders Association and some are quite elderly.

“One is 80 years old, I am 73 myself, we have another man in his 70s. And our youngest member has four children – what kind of family life will he have if he has to work these hours?”

Currently, street traders and other Northumberland Street businesses are only barred from bringing loading vehicles onto the high street between 10am and 5.30pm.

Mr Sayers announced he was going into retirement when the first Covid restrictions were being brought in last year and his popular fruit and veg stall has not returned to Northumberland Street since.

However, the 73-year-old still actively supports the street’s other traders and had hoped to return himself with a new stall selling coffees and soft drinks.

Under a £50m vision to transform the city centre, the council says it plans to create new space for independent traders on Ridley Place and Saville Row, both of which are side streets next to the main Northumberland Street shopping area.

But Mr Sayers is adamant that traders are not prepared to move from their traditional berths.

He added:  “This will be the death of the street trading community. We need to sit down with someone at the council who can tell us what their plan is for us.

“My opinion is that we will not be here much longer, we just can’t adhere to these rules and regulations.

“The street traders are not prepared to move from where we are now. Putting us on a side street does away with our business. Our core business is where we are now, that’s where our customers know.”

A council consultation on the plans for Blackett Street and the surrounding area is running until October 15.

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said: “The consultation on proposed traffic changes in the city centre is taking place until 5pm on Friday 15 October. During this time we will continue to have conversations with people and businesses with specific views and interests to ensure we gather their views.

“We have tried to take into account feedback from the last time we consulted people on this matter and have changed the plans in response. Anyone can let us know their views and we encourage people to take part, we will consider the new responses we receive before making a final decision.”


Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter

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