“Ghost town” fear

Jackie Simmonds in her newsagency at Goldthorpe.
Jackie Simmonds in her newsagency at Goldthorpe.

DEARNE shopkeepers warn that new plans for Goldthorpe could turn the shopping centre in to a ghost town.

Traders who have battled with Barnsley Council for several months over problems caused by roadworks along Barnsley and Doncaster Road now say proposals by the council to stop any form of parking there will lose them their livelihoods.

Some businesses have already closed or staff been laid off in recent weeks due to a fall in trade as people have struggled to shop past barriers protecting the public from holes and machinery.

Mick Branford, 52, has operated his MCB Furniture business from its Barnsley Road base for 12 years.

But he is now winding down as he says the roadworks that are intended to improve the look of Goldthorpe have “flattened” his trade. And despite constant attempts at contact with Barnsley Council he claims there is no realisation of the problems shops have experienced. He had to lay off his last staff member and has bought no new stock in for months.

He said: “I stopped deliveries in March. Parking has been impossible and now there are plans to make the road a clearway I think it’s time to go. You can’t walk far with heavy furniture.”

Terry Walton, 51, has run his DIY shop for seven years. He said: “The clearway would be policed by cameras and we’ve been told we would have to go in the car park at the back of the library for deliveries. Several people have had enough and packed up already. It’s just too much. The work was supposed to have been all done by now.”

Mick and Jackie Simmonds have run a newsagency on High Street for 16 years and along with the majority of traders have submitted lengthy objections to the road plans by Barnsley Council.

The first they knew of the latest proposal was, they say, when they saw a notice advertised. And last Monday was the final date for comments or objections to be lodged.

“We have no clue how we’ll cope,” said Jackie. “I’ve been robbed at knifepoint twice in the shop in the past, so if we’re forced to traipse a distance across the road with goods and takings, I envisage being mugged. To date, no-one is prepared to meet with us to talk about this. We’ll see what happens next.”

A credit union operating in the town will also be put under pressure by the changes. Goldthorpe folk have little now but will be left with nothing, say the traders, who claim that the work done so far to improve the appearance of the town has been a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”

They await a response from the council to their concerns.