Shoe shop in Berwick to close, with owner criticising Northumberland County Council

A shoe shop that opened two years ago is closing this week, with the owner saying Northumberland County Council “not being interested in Berwick” was a major factor.
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But the local authority has said the claims over parking and street cleaning are incorrect, as well as saying that “there is a great deal of investment and work going into Berwick to revitalise the town centre and encourage new businesses”.

Arthur Punton has been in the footwear industry since 1985 and decided to open a shoe shop on Marygate, called Marc Anthony’s, in 2021. It is managed by his son Mark.

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As well as business rates, which he said was an issue across the country, when giving his reasons for closing the store he believes that “in my opinion, the county council is not interested in Berwick and it has been that way for a long time”.

Marc Anthony's in Berwick.Marc Anthony's in Berwick.
Marc Anthony's in Berwick.

Arthur added: “The streets are not being cleaned as regularly as they are being cleaned in other towns such as Alnwick and Kelso.

“There are issues with parking and traffic wardens being strict in handing out parking tickets is putting people off returning to Berwick. I don’t blame the wardens themselves, they will have been instructed to do this by their bosses at County Hall.

“It is all well and good building a new leisure centre in Tweedmouth, but the council has done nothing that will help businesses in Berwick town centre.”

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The business will continue to operate at country shows in the region and big shows across the UK.

A county council spokesperson said: “While any shop closure is disappointing, there is a great deal of investment and work going into Berwick to revitalise the town centre and encourage new businesses.

“Progress continues on the new multi-million pound Maltings arts venue for Berwick, which will deliver a major transformation and expansion of the current venue.

“Also in the town, £4.2million has been secured on behalf of the Berwick Barracks Partnership that will see organisations work together to create a thriving cultural hub at the Barracks and bring empty buildings back into use in a way that supports tourism and the local economy.

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“There’s also a new Culture and Creative Zone, with a £1.5million allocation from the North of Tyne Combined Authority, which will be put towards helping local creative and cultural businesses, organising events and further raising Berwick’s profile as a centre for creative activity in the North East.

“It would be unfair to suggest Berwick’s streets are cleaned less regularly than other towns or parking enforcement is dealt with any differently – this is not the case.

“All of the town centre shopping areas in our main towns are cleaned daily and our parking teams consistently enforce any parking restrictions which are in place.

“We also have a free parking policy in our main towns to encourage visitors and support the town centre businesses.”