A PROMINENT Evesham businessman has claimed there are ‘barriers’ to shoppers enjoying their experience in the town centre.
James Fleck, Development Agent at Subway, who has worked in the town for 16 years, said the town’s one-way system and parking situation was standing in the way of ‘stress free shopping’.
Speaking to the Observer Mr Fleck, who opened the first Subway in town on Bridge Street in 1999, described Evesham as not all ‘doom and gloom’ but said improvements could be made.
“Whether it’s Worcestershire County Council, whether it’s Wychavon, or whether it’s Evesham Town Council, what they need to consider is that for people wanting to come into Evesham it needs to be a stress free experience,” he add.
“If, as soon as they try and even get into the town they come across barriers, or they come across things which make their time in town stressful they’re not going to come back as often.
Mr Fleck, who helps aspiring Subway owners open a new store, called on council chiefs to allow shoppers to pay for their stay after they’ve been to the shops to entice people to stay longer.
“Instead of actually going into town and having a wander and looking at a shop they haven’t actually seen before, they get to a point and think ‘I’ve only got 5 minutes left on my time’, so they’re going to leave,” he added.
Mr Fleck suggested councils look at Evesham as a business as a way to to get more people to visit the town centre.
“You give good customer service, you have good accessibility, you have good visibility, you have good products to sell, but are we making it easy for people to walk through the front door,” he said.
Despite the criticisms, Mr Fleck praised both Wychavon and Worcestershire County Council for the regeneration of the High Street and the new Abbey Bridge.
“I think Evesham is given a hard time for no reason, it does have its bad points, it could make some improvements but generally speaking it’s a really great town, a great community.
Coun Richard Morris, portfolio holder for economy and housing on Wychavon District Council, said: “Parking charges have been frozen since 2011 and will remain so for at least the next four years.
“Our buy two hours get the third hour free scheme will encourage visitors to stay longer and explore what Evesham has to offer, while we’re trialling payment by mobile phone to make it easier for people to park.
“We’re always looking to improve the retail offering and opportunities for businesses and are happy to discuss any suggestions or issues people may have,” he added.
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