Shops are ‘dying a death’

12-82 Very quiet Gadebridge shops, Hemel Hempstead with, from left,'Rohit and his brother Hitendra Patel and Nicola Cay from Costcutters, 'and Kiran Patel from the newsagents next door.

12-82 Very quiet Gadebridge shops, Hemel Hempstead with, from left,'Rohit and his brother Hitendra Patel and Nicola Cay from Costcutters, 'and Kiran Patel from the newsagents next door.

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NEIGHBOURHOOD shopping centres in Hemel Hempstead are suffering a massive decline in fortunes with dwindling customers and dingy amenities.

Shopkeepers claim they have never known business so slow and are calling on the council for action to boost trade.

12-83 Bennetts Gate Shops, Hemel Hempstead.

12-83 Bennetts Gate Shops, Hemel Hempstead.

Gary Makepeace, boss of Sandwich Makers in Bennettsgate, said: “There’s no trade. I’ve never known it as quiet as this.

“I think the parade needs clearing up to make it more attractive.”

Chrissy Wheeler, assistant manager at the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home shop next door, said: “We’re dying a death, there’s no-one about.

“January is a terrible month but it has got worse.”

Parry’s the newsagent has brought forward closing time by five hours from 6pm to 1pm to save cash.

Manager Claire Eddy said: “It’s so quiet they can’t afford to keep us open. There’s so much competition. People would rather go to the supermarket and pick up their papers than make a special trip.”

Tom Phillips, owner at TJ’s foodstore, said: “We’ve had to up our promotions to stay at the same level.”

Dacorum Borough Council said in a statement: “The council has plans to replant the planter and repaint Bennettsgate shops in the spring, once the weather improves.”

The owners of shops in Gadebridge, in a similar vein to shopkeepers in Bennets End, have voiced their concerns over a lack of shoppers.

Now to worsen the situation, they are angry at plans to allow a new conveinience store to open next door, a move they believe may push them under.

Rohit Patel, who co-owns the Costcutter store with members of his family, said: “Gadebridge Parade is dead, it’s run down here and every year there are fewer and fewer people.

“Another shop selling exactly the same will have a big impact. We would probably have to let a lot of our part time staff go.

“There’s been no consultation from the council about how we feel and we have restricted licences telling us what we can sell so we don’t duplicate business.”

Peter Hamilton who looks after estates at Dacorum Borough Council said: “I can’t comment at this stage on this particular case, but when a shop unit becomes vacant the council, as landlord, goes out to tender.

“Competition is one of the elements taken into consideration. Where there are objections or comments we are, of course, happy to hear them.

“My aim is to encourage vibrant, successful shopping areas for the local community.”

Should local shops get a special deal or is it tough all all over? Tell us what you think, email your views to thegazette@jpress.co.uk