The lack of council money spent developing Poole Quay and surrounding areas has frustrated some business owners who say they are considering leaving the area.
Truly Scrumptious sweet shop owner Jeanette Walsh said: “It’s like a ghost town at times down at the bottom of Old Town. Of course business picks up in the summer with more tourists but the winter months are becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to survive.”
Ms Walsh had a stark warning for the council: “Some [shop owners] are very concerned about the situation – some might just sell up and go.”
‘Shops can’t afford the high rents and there just isn’t enough going on to get people down here.’ – Craig Sykes
Ms Walsh’s view is supported by Craig Sykes, 37, who has lived in the area his whole life and has seen the fortunes of businesses suffer in recent years. “The turnover of shops is high down the high street,” he said. “Shops can’t afford the high rents and there just isn’t enough going on to get people down here.”
Mr Sykes said that one of the big issues in Poole is based on the different priorities of the older and younger generations of residents. He said: “Youngsters want to have a bit more fun. But every time a place offers that, like Dundees [sports bar], it gets complaints from the elderly and ends up shut down.”
For Ms Walsh a better balance needs to be struck. “We need something for everyone, not just one group,” she said.
The portfolio holder for a prosperous and sustainable Poole, Councillor Xena Dion, responded saying: “Lots is being done to improve Poole and to attract visitors to the area. We are always happy to listen to businesses and work towards making Poole a vibrant and thriving area.”
The mood among businesses in Old Town is that more needs to be done to encourage visitors to the area or face the possibility of shop owners moving elsewhere.