VIDEO: Sheffield traders criticise council over alleged 'lack of support' in festive shopping season

Angry business owners - who claim they have already been hit by a slump in trade due to eyesore scaffolding - have criticised the council for 'turning their backs on them' at a crucial time.

A number of shop owners in the Chapel Walk, High Street and Fargate area of Sheffield city centre say they are all wrapped up for Christmas - but in unsightly metallic bars rather than festive cheer.

Chapel Walk.

Chapel Walk.

They claim the scaffold, which is up as part of a residential development above the retail units, is putting off customers and has hit trade just as they are coming up to the busy festive season.

Sheffield Business Improvement District, an organisation which promotes city centre businesses, and even the scaffold company itself has tried to help shops by putting up new signs and lighting.

But shop owners claimed Sheffield Council has failed to sufficiently answer their pleas for help despite pledging publicly to work with them to minimize disruption. The authority has refuted this.

Carolyn Tarlton, manager of The Gadget Stall, said she wanted to give out fliers promoting the store to shoppers in nearby Fargate but was slapped with an £80 charge from the council.

Carl Dunne.

Carl Dunne.

She said: "Given the situation I thought they could have waived it. Trade is down by about half compared to last year."

Carl Dunne, aged 45, who owns Cards & Gifts, added: "It feels like the council has turned their back on us a little. And because trade is being hit by the scaffold they could have looked at dropping the rates to offset it. We would also have benefited from a bit of free marketing.

"Sheffield BID has done amazing work, but they can only do so much."

Sue Berridge, of Cards for Good Causes, which raises thousands of pounds for charity through card sales, said the store has been hit by the theft of two 3ft high Santa boards, used to help pull in customers, and on Saturday vandals super glued security railings together preventing staff from getting in.

More scaffold.

More scaffold.

She said: "We raise thousands of pounds every year but at the moment we won't be able to reach that target. I just think people can't find us."

Just around the corner at photo shop Max Spielmann, store manager Chiara Hunter said: "We have had periods where trade has been affected. The scaffold just makes it all look a bit dark for shoppers."

Shop owners praised Sheffield BID, a collection of city centre businesses who joined forces to improve the area, for installing fairy lights along Chapel Walk and launching the Santa's Post Office shop, in which children can write their wish lists to Father Christmas.

Molly McGreevy, of Sheffield BID, did not want to lay any blame at the council but said they launched the post office to "help increase footfall for businesses and to attract families into the area."

Scaffold.

Scaffold.

Hayley Carman, aged 34, of Ecclesfield, visited with her family, and said: "If it wasn't for Santa's Post Office then we probably wouldn't have come down here."

The scaffold has been up for a couple of months while the developer - believed to be the Coyne Group - completes work on a student accommodation scheme in the buildings above the shops.

Traders said they understand the structure may remain for several more months, but this has not been confirmed.

Sheffield Council has previously said the scaffold is required to "to safely convert the building into flats" and vowed to work with businesses to "reduce disruption as much as possible."

Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, added that the authority was "instrumental in setting up the Sheffield BID" in 2015 and added that Santa’s Post Office will "encourage thousands of families to Chapel Walk.

“We’ll continue to work with the contractor to ensure there are temporary signs and lights in place."

Ann Greenwood.

Ann Greenwood.

A council spokesperson said the £80 charge for leaflets is to help reduce litter from discarded fliers. In addition, he said the buildings on Chapel Walk are owned by private landlords and so the authority is unable to negotiate rent reductions.

L to r:- Molly McGreevy, of Sheffield BID, Jeremy Rucker, who designed the shop, and Sophia Collins.

L to r:- Molly McGreevy, of Sheffield BID, Jeremy Rucker, who designed the shop, and Sophia Collins.