TRADERS in Station Road, Yate say their businesses could collapse after parking spaces were removed to make way for a cycle lane, driving customers away.  

South Gloucestershire Council gave businesses and residents 10-days notice before closing Station Road on Monday, August 24 to install the cycle path which runs from the authority’s office in Badminton Road, through Station Road and ends at the link roundabout by B&Q.

There were 26 marked parking spaces in the road but these have now gone.

Business owners told the Gazette they were unable to oppose the plans before the work started, as the online consultation on the scheme only went live on the same day the cycle path installation began.

Tig Miller, owner of D.E.L’s café, said he contacted South Gloucestershire Council to air his concerns over losing over half of his trade due to the new lack of parking. He said the council told him his customers could use the available parking in neighbouring Long’s Drive and Westleigh Close, but he claims there are not enough spaces.

Tig said he has used his CCTV to capture daily snapshots of pedestrians and cyclists using Station Road and that the council’s figures on the number of cyclists and pedestrians are no longer accurate as they were recorded during July, when more people were walking and cycling and prior to people returning to work and school.

Terry’s cycles owner Nigel Sims said the irony is that a cycle path could close down a shop for the very people that need it, because his business saw an increase of over 70 per cent trade during lockdown but had its “worst week in 13 years” after the parking spaces were lost to make way to the cycle lane.

He echoed the impression given by the CCTV images from D.E.Ls café, saying, “The numbers by the council were inflated due to more people than ever walking and cycling to take their then, allowed, one hour a day exercise. These numbers have obviously gone down now more people are back in work.

“However, I have now had the worst week in my 13 years in the shop. September, back to school, is usually one of my busiest times.”

Tesco Express manager Andy, claimed the shop has lost 20 per cent of its business since the cycle paths have been in place.

He said: “Without the ability to just pull up outside of the shop and nip in, we have lost all of our morning ‘newspaper and snack’ customers to the garage further along the road. We have four parking spaces to the side of our store, but they’re not suitable for lorries and vans. We have also found customers are resorting to park in our loading bays, which is causing us more stress.”

Station Road Barbers owner, Pete Crawford, feels the council supported the business through the lockdown period only to now be forcing them into closure just weeks after re-opening.

He said:  We have been a three man barber shop for 21 years, this is going to force us to go down to one. And even then, I cant see us still being open in three months. We rely on large volume of customers paying small amounts of money. We are currently working on a 60 per cent drop in takings.

“The parking spaces are vital. We rely on the parking spaces. Taking away our parking spaces takes away our customers.

Local resident Peter Seller thinks the entire effort is pointless due to the amount of cyclists that still ride on the paths. In a snapshot taken and sent to the council, 41 per cent of cyclists were still riding on the pavement, two per cent more than in the council’s tally taken in July.

However, cyclist Jim Bennett said the cycle paths were a “really positive improvement for Yate” and added: “I felt a lot safer after riding down Station Road on my way to work.”

Rebecca Bennett agreed, stating: “No-one’s desire to park immediately outside a shop, trumps the need for safety of the most vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.”

The Businesses agreed that having a cycle path is not something they disagree with. However, they have asked South Gloucestershire council why the funding used could not have ‘made safe’ the existing cycle path through Westerleigh Common or why the wide footpaths couldn’t have been divided into cycle paths.

South Gloucestershire council has been approached for comment on this issue. The Gazette also asked how the removal of the parking spaces will impact the planned development on the old Railway Inn site, where initial proposals were agreed with 12 parking spaces available on Station Road for the homes. We await their response.