Business owners furious over bus gates have hit back at an offer of help from a council chief.
Traders claim the gates introduced last February are turning the parts of Huddersfield affected into a ghost town and are ruining their businesses.
Jacqui Gedman, Kirklees Council deputy chief executive, has asked for traders’ views on what the council can do to help businesses.
And because of their concerns, she says Cabinet had asked for a report into the impact of the scheme on town centre business.
She added: “They have also asked that I look at what other measures we can support to help the town centre through this period.
“I understand this response may fall short of your expectations, but assure you that whilst we must wait for a suitable period to review the bus gate scheme, the council is committed to taking appropriate steps to support the town centre.”
Angry representatives of Huddersfield Town Centre Action Group (HTCAG) – including Alisa Devlin, of La Fleur – said: “We need the council to act now and review or abolish this scheme with immediate effect.
“This is the only way we feel that we can get the business levels back to how they were prior to the implementation of this scheme.”
Traders say business is significantly down and, as each week goes by, they are getting closer to more businesses shutting their doors for good. Two have already announced they are closing.
The HTCAG representatives replied in a letter to the council: “You only have to walk down Westgate outside the lunchtime hours to see it is now virtually dead, no cars and very few pedestrians.
“Please, please listen to the businesses on the ground that are slowly dying, and act before you will be guilty of killing your own town centre.
“Think about it! Why would we be doing all this campaigning if there wasn’t a massive negative effect on the amount of shoppers coming to the town centre?
“Why would 61 businesses join together to challenge the council on this issue if this massive negative effect on trade wasn’t being felt across the whole town?
“We now have 3,000 signatures on our petition calling for the council to abolish the bus gates. This figure is growing daily.”
The council says before they can properly review the effects of the bus gates, they need time for the town centre to recover from very disruptive utility works and roadworks which have taken place over the last few months.
Business owners say, however, that time is a luxury they cannot afford.