Conservative Councillors were shocked to see that once more the Leader of the Opposition has been talking down the hard working Brentwood traders and putting off new trade.
In an article headed ‘High Street retailers facing meltdown’, Cllr Kendall suggests that the Conservatives are ‘out of touch’ yet claims that Belgique is one of the shops closing. This is simply not true.
‘We are getting fed up with the constant lack of support of the Lib Glums for our hard-working traders,’ said Cllr Phil Baker, Chairman of the Business and Economic Development Panel.
‘Even with the High Street refurbishment in 2009, they were turning people off from shopping in Brentwood, and at Christmas they did everything to try to get the Lighting Up event cancelled. Now they are claiming that Belgique are not able to survive. If they had done their homework they would know that the Belgique chain is introducing a new brand to Brentwood, which is excellent news. I hope that Cllr Kendall will be correcting his error and apologising to Belgique for distributing mis-information.’
Town Centre Conservative Councillors, who spend a lot of time meeting with shop owners, realise that markets change. ‘Many people would say that there are too many High Street coffee shops, so therefore the restyling of Belgique should be welcomed,’ added Cllr Baker.
‘Furthermore, Cllr Kendall should be aware as a Borough councillor that, even though Subways has sadly closed, a new hot food business has been proposed for the former Bet Fred shop next door. This is simply market forces acting to provide what the consumer wants.’
In his article, Cllr Kendall has also ridiculed the suggestion that local traders may wish to contribute towards the cost of opening the multi-storey car park. ‘Once more, Cllr Kendall is out of touch and behind the times,’ said Cllr Baker. ‘As he was at the meeting himself when the suggestion was made, he will know that it was put forward by one of the traders themselves. He should stop playing politics and should not mislead residents in this way. It is shameful that he has chosen to lambast our local businesses for their innovative approach and desire to work with the Council.’
‘If he had not resigned from the Renaissance Group, and also refused to help with Lighting Up Brentwood, he might know the truth about what is going on.’
‘Cllr Kendall also mentions Currys, suggesting that it is only in Brentwood that this shop has closed. In 2008, DSG International announced that 77 out of its 177 Currys.digital shops would close over the following five years as leases expired, which is what has happened here,’ added Cllr Baker.
The Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Roger Hirst was also angered by these claims by Cllr Kendall. ‘These constant moans by Cllr Kendall are really annoying the traders,’ he said.
‘Anyone reading his diatribe would think that Brentwood was not worth visiting which is clearly not the case. This constant scaremongering by the Lib Dems is hurting Brentwood and its traders who provide such a great service.
‘Our “hidden treasure” Crown Street has no empty shops at all. This week alone, another business has announced it is moving in to Brentwood and others are talking to us about the opportunities here. Perhaps if Cllr Kendall was a bit more welcoming, we would have even more moving in,’ added Cllr Hirst.
‘This constant whining is damaging business, but the public are now recognising that. I ask residents to back our businesses, shop in our town centre and put Brentwood First.’