Businesses feeling the pinch

The Rag Doll closed down earlier this year
The Rag Doll closed down earlier this year

Town centre businesses are blaming months of roadworks for a drop of up to 50 per cent in takings in the run-up to Christmas.

The ongoing work in Kirkintilloch has already been blamed for the closure of clothes shop The Rag Doll in recent weeks.

Rag Doll owner Jean Graham said the works had “forced her out” after 47 years and labelled the town centre an “absolute disgrace”.

Others are now feeling the pinch, with electrical shop A. Conlon seeing takings down by a third, while the owners of the Old Sweetie Shop estimate that trade has plunged by 50 per cent.

And one shopkeeper, who didn’t want to be named, said that he was concerned whether he’d even be in business by the end of January.

Jacqui Fairbairn, owner of Gemini Cards, reported that trade was down 20 per cent, adding: “Footfall is certainly down. The council said that footfall was up but did not tell us how much it was up. Not one person from the council has asked how my business is doing.”

Reasons given for the drop include safety worries over the removal of traffic lights and it becomingincreasingly difficult to access the town - particularly for the elderly.

Terry O’Neil, manager of Terry’s Electrical Spares, believes business is down by about 30 per cent.

He said: “I think it’s very bad the way the town is being run - there is no footfall, there is no new business.”

“I don’t see what the plus side of it is going to be. I think if you look across the town it’s very quiet and anyone who says differently is telling lies.”

“It’s badly run, it’s badly managed and I don’t see it making a positive difference to the town. I wouldn’t like to be a business starting up in Kirkintilloch.”

Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive of Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, said: “Pedestrian access is being maintained throughout the current works - with arrangements in place for people using public transport and vehicles. The Council arranged with our contractor - Rainton - to ensure Cowgate was fully reopened during December to encourage people to use local shops and hostelries.

“I hope people continue to support Kirkintilloch town centre throughout the festive period and beyond.”

“Support is available to local traders through Business Gateway. I would urge businesses to get in touch by calling 0300 123 4510.”