Concern raised after trade in town takes a hit

Queen Street in Amble.
Queen Street in Amble.

A seaside town has seen a ‘massive downturn in trade’ over the last few months, the chairman of its business club has said.

And she also believes that the lack of car parking in the area is having a detrimental impact, despite ongoing efforts to tackle the issue.

This candid view was shared by Ann Burke at Amble’s Parish Meeting last week.

She also expressed her concern at the recent closure of two shops in the town.

But she did say that Amble Business Club membership has increased.

In a report to the meeting, she said: “For the past two months we have seen a massive downturn in trade, although we have had word that this is not unique to Amble. We can only hope that this is not an onward trend. Queen Street has always had a really good mix of shops which has been the attraction to shoppers. There is concern that the shoe shop and the florist have closed down in the last few weeks, We appear to have a lot of eateries, which is fine for tourists, but my concern is for winter.

“Car parking is still an issue. It is moving forward slowly, but so is the volume of traffic in the town.

“The lack of parking does have a detrimental effect on trade in Amble, even from local people. The one-way system has been a vast improvement, but as traders we look forward to it settling down with all orders in place.”

That said, it is not all doom and gloom. Towards the end of last year, the town took the title of Coastal Community in the Great British High Street Awards 2015. The town scooped £5,000 and it is currently looking at signage with some of the money. On top of that, the Harbour Village, which officially launched in March last year, was runner-up in the Living North Best Small Regeneration Project category.

Meanwhile, Julia Aston, director of Amble Development Trust, said work is continuing to explore the possibility of establishing a lobster hatchery. She said: “The timing is right to offer our fishing fleet as much assistance as we can, given the impact it has on local tourism and associated businesses.”

She added: “The Trust’s objectives have always been to assist the town to achieve its potential and given the profile we have had in the last year, it would appear we are having some success.”

Work is also ongoing to try to bring the former Northumberland Foods site, on Coquet Enterprise Park, back into use.