Bearsden traders warn that schools closure could be catastrophic

BEARSDEN CROSS
BEARSDEN CROSS

BEARSDEN traders could lose over £650,000 a year in custom and shops could be forced to close if East Dunbartonshire Council shuts Bearsden Primary School, a leading consultant has claimed.

Ian Blackford, head of financial consultancy company First Seer and former MD of Deutsche Bank, warned of a “catastrophic” impact on businesses at Bearsden Cross after a survey commissioned by Save Bearsden Primary action group found parents will rarely shop there on weekdays if the school closes.

Now 10 local traders have spoken out about the damage closing the school would inflict on the Cross - they are Café Crème, Massimo, Rose and Grants, Welsh Rare Bits, RS McColl, A La Carte, Christie The Butchers, Purple Edge, Timpson and Station Barbers.

Around 300 parents take their children to and from Bearsden Primary every day, often stopping off at nearby shops on the way.

A survey of 125 local parents’ shopping habits found that many will stop visiting the Cross altogether on school days if they have to travel to Castlehill Primary - the council’s proposed site for a new school, a mile-and-a-half away.

According to the survey parents dropping off and collecting their kids spend up to £706,935 annually on school days at Bearsden Cross, but this would fall to between £50,477 and £140,892 if the school shuts, with many saying they would have no reason to spend money at the Cross during the week.

That means shops would lose between £566,043 and £656,458 in trade at a time when the economic downturn is already taking its toll on local businesses.

The survey indicates that while two-thirds of parents currently shop at the Cross between three and five times a week on school days, in future most (62 per cent) would “never or hardly ever” go there during the week, while 31 per cent would go once a week and seven per cent twice a week.

Mr Blackford said: “The proximity of Bearsden Primary School to Bearsden Cross and the socio-economic profile of the local population currently combines to support the viability of many small independent traders.

“Closing the school would result in a substantial loss of daily footfall and could reduce custom by close to £700,000 a year from parents alone, without taking account of the spending of school staff. This could have a catastrophic effect on some businesses, particularly in the current difficult climate.”

Jennifer Boyle, who runs coffee shop Café Crème, said: “We get a rush of mums each morning after dropping off the kids - then again at 3pm when the school comes out. Closing the school really would affect my business and the whole Cross.

“I’ve lived in Bearsden all my life and the Cross has lost a lot of what was special about it over the years, because more people go into town to shop.

“The school is the only thing keeping it going. It’s the heart of the community.

“During a recession of all times why does the council want to consider something that would make life even more difficult for local shops?”

Wendy McLaren, of Save Bearsden Primary, said: “Closure would clearly damage the whole community, not just the school community.

“We urge everyone to use their power to stop this by completing a consultation response to say closure must not be an option and by making their views known to councillors.”

For more information go to www.savebearsdenprimary.com and to sign a petition against closure go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-bearsden-primary-school