Five independent traders looking to leave Westgate Street
HELP keep our independent cafe culture thriving is the message from businesses in Westgate Street.
Concerns have been raised after it emerged five traders are all looking to leave the street.
Cafe El Bahdja and StanMan's are both on the market and The Coffee Cup is thought to have stopped trading last Saturday.
The Crow's Nest opened 15 weeks ago but the building is still for sale so it could close if a buyer is found.
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The Comfy Pew is also understood to be up for sale.
Hedley's was on the market but owner Chris Brookes said he had now decided to stay and has signed a new lease.
Ivan Taylor from the Westgate Quarter Traders' Association said: "It is a shame to see so many seasoned business holders going because they are good at what they do."
He hopes the shops will be taken over by like-minded people instead of chains.
Most of the owners say they are leaving for personal reasons, not a lack of trade but that the council does need to do more to ensure independents can survive in the city.
They say tourists get coached down to the Quays and shoppers flock to Eastgate Street but not enough is being done to drawn them to Westgate Street.
Owner of Cafe El Bahdja Lizzie Abderrahim said: "There are fewer people working at Shire Hall so we don't see those regulars any more and the prison closing has been a factor.
"We definitely see a drop in trade when events are on at the Quays."
She added:"There are also lot's of empty shops.
"Why would people come down here?"
Crow's Nest owner John Redfearn agreed that cafes alone are not enough of a draw and believes art galleries could be a way forward.
He said: "There needs to be more vibrant things going on.
"There are shops just sat empty."
He is due to host an art exhibition in his building over Easter weekend.
City council leader Paul James said plans were being looked at to create a coach crop off at the end of the pedestrian zone in Westgate Street.
He added: "We have a part to play but everyone has to work together to generate footfall."