Outside sitting, give more "life" to Regent street!
I am one of the shareholders at Via Via Delicatessen also on Regent Street and so I totally understand the problems they are experiencing because we are experiencing the same things. When we were ‘sold’ our unit we were led to believe that Regent Street would become the new centre of town, the focal point, a semi pedestrian area with high quality shops, restaurants and cafés. Hence, the high rents they were trying to justify and the long leases. You would only be considered for a unit there if you had a reputable background and were offering a high quality product. What a disappointment it all turned out to be. A council official came down the other day from Macclesfield and told us and Starbucks to remove our tables and chairs from outside because it didn’t comply with their rules. They have since stated that we have to remove our A-boards as well. On top of that, they are now requiring us to remove three of our tables from inside the premises because it does not comply with what’s in their rule book. As if business wasn’t hard enough at the moment, we are now being asked to turn customers away because there is nowhere for them to sit. The evenings on Regent Street is completely dead; the lighting is poor and nobody walks down there. People visiting from out of town have no idea we are there and so they tend to only frequent the venues on King Street instead. The whole thing has been a complete disaster to be honest and instead of helping especially in the current difficult economic climate, the council seem bent on closing us all down albeit unintentionally. I am not surprised that Starbucks are now thinking of moving out of Knutsford; why should they put up with it all as well as being constantly hounded by council officials. The landlords have spent a little bit of money on advertising in In-Cheshire Magazine and George Osborne has been very supportive, which is why I am copying him in also but other than that we have had no help or support from anybody. Another thing I have to say about the council is that if you are a second late on paying your business rates (which are very high anyway), they are straight in with the bailiffs threatening to close you down and if you don’t pay everything in full there and then, they start loading up the van! What we need is more support for businesses in Knutsford generally, particularly small ones and more common sense being applied on Regent Street instead of silly clip boards and rule books. Best regards Marco