A POPULAR independent clothing shop in Bournemouth town centre will be closing down due to pedestrianisation, says the owner.
Richmond Classics on Albert Road has announced it will be closing its doors for good as a result of the council’s decision to pedestrianise Beale Place several years ago.
Owner Keith McNicol has put up a sign in the shop window blaming councillor Mike Greene, portfolio holder for sustainability and transport at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, for the stores closure.
The destination fashion store has been trading in Bournemouth since 1988 and opened its Albert Road shop in 2003.
Following the development and pedestrianisation of Beale Place and the closure of Albert Road and Yelverton Road in 2016, owner of Richmond Classics, Mr McNicol told the Daily Echo how he has seen an 80 per cent decline in footfall which has led to him taking the decision to close.
He said: “Slowly but surely, because it’s been pedestrianised, because it’s been neglected, Albert Road has now become an area for crime and an unsafe area for people to walk along so therefore they’re not encouraged to be here.
“There is no lighting, it’s three-minutes or so from Mcdonalds in the town centre which is disgraceful and it’s got to a stage where we are at a level – as you can see with the poster I’ve put up – that we can’t go on any longer, it’s unsustainable.
Mr McNichol described how his ideas to turn Albert Road into a destination space, with art pop-ups, live music and ‘green graffiti’ were turned down by the council.
He said: “Everything they [the council] promised, they have never done and everything they have done has deteriorated that road so badly – as I said in my poster.
“The road is an area where no one goes, if you can’t be watched then you can commit crime, commit drug deals and you can share out thefts.
“In that road people sit on steps and inject drugs, my staff felt unsafe and Bournemouth Council’s decision to close that road has led to that.”
Disappointed by the council’s response to his pleas for regeneration of both Albert Road and Yelverton Road, Mr McNichol attributes the downfall of his Albert Road store to pedestrianisation.
He added: “It is ludicrous that they [the council] can dictate and be responsible for people’s livelihoods without even blinking about it and Councillor Greene is a prime suspect.
“All he wanted to do was pedestrianise everything and pedestrianise everything and no matter what that doesn’t lead to successful retail.
“It leads to areas that people won’t go into and won’t trade from.
“It’s unsafe to be in the town, it’s unsafe to stay in the town and that’s BCP’s fault as well.
“I’ve been retailing in this town for 34 years on an independent basis and it’s deteriorated and it’s still going down.
“You could make this a really cool place but it didn’t happen, the council ignored it until it became a space where the seagulls fight over food because the bins are overflowing.
“It’s a filthy, disgusting area that no one wants to stay in and I feel sorry for Creams who have gone in there [the road].
The closing date is yet to be decided though the lease has now expired on the Richmond Classics store on Albert Road.
The Westover Road Richmond Classics opened in 2016 and will remain open and the store will continue to trade online.