I read with a mixture of sadness and anger of yet more shop closures in our town – Brian Barnes a longstanding watch and clock repairer, and Julian Graves Health Shop in the Cliffe Precinct highlighted in the Sussex Express on August 10.
Brian Barnes hit the problem right on the button when he cited the parking situation in Lewes. As a regular visitor to Dorchester, the county town of Dorset, I have the opportunity to measure the differences between both county towns. In sharp contrast to Lewes, Dorchester (population about 2,000 more than Lewes) is a vibrant and thriving shopping centre with a great number of shops including businesses, restaurants, cafes and a market.
There is very little evidence of empty shops that have closed down, in fact there is a new shopping complex currently being developed to improve the status of the town.
The one key factor missing which is so obvious in Lewes, is the distinct lack of civil enforcement officers (traffic wardens).
Although I am not aware of how many CEOs there are in both towns, there seems to be only a small number in Dorchester who maintain a very low profile which allows shopkeepers to maintain a flourishing and active retail business.
Lewes is flooded daily with over zealous civil enforcement officers who also travel around in personnel carriers and scooters to every corner of the town in order to target motorists, making sure they maximise and justify their jobs.
This continues to have a major impact on the town’s livelihood with shopkeepers and businesses blaming the parking scheme as a major issue threatening the very existence of the town.
Perhaps those in the council who are responsible for operating the parking scheme should take a close look at the Dorchester model or else we will have to resign ourselves to becoming a “ghost town” as stated by Brian Barnes.
Bruce Byrne, Lewes