Ropergate in Pontefract: Wakefield Council to 'tweak' café culture scheme after complaints from retailers

The partial pedestrianisation of a major town centre road is set to be "tweaked", following complaints from retailers in the area.

By David Spereall
Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:38 pm

Ropergate on Pontefract was closed to on-street parking a fortnight ago under Wakefield Council plans to encourage café culture and outdoor seating on the streets in the summer months.

However, some businesses have complained that the scheme is driving shoppers away from the area.

In response to the feedback, the council has said it will look to make changes "over the next week or so", with some parking likely to be restored.

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Traffic can still access Ropergate but plant boxes now line the street to restrict parking and allow tables to be put outside.

Raising the issue on an online Q&A session with senior council figures on Monday, Neil Cooper said some Ropergate business had reported an 89 per cent drop in turnover.

He wrote: "Without the short term parking on Ropergate there are now very few shoppers venturing along the street.

"Business owners on Ropergate cannot wait six months before action is taken to restore most of, if not all, of the parking."

In response, the council's portfolio holder for highways, Matthew Morley said he would be visiting the area on Tuesday to talk to traders.

The council's portfolio holder for transport Matthew Morley (middle), with his deputy, George Ayre (left) and Pontefract Civic Society president Paul Cartwright.

He said: "We are looking to increase café culture and letting people drink outside and letting cafés expand outwards.

"It looks fantastic in the summer and we thought Ropergate would really lend itself to that.

"There's a few bars opening down there.

"We are looking to tweak the scheme, taking on board some suggestions that shop owners have already sent into us about how we can make it better.

"We get what people are saying about having no car parking outside some of the shops, so we'll look to fetch some of that back now."

Council leader Denise Jeffery said a "balance" had to be struck with the scheme.

She told the session: "We do understand how people are feeling about being able to pop into a shop and just being able to park outside for a moment.

"We want to move forward with it. But we need to get it right for businesses.

"We don't want to deflect away from people earning during these difficult times.

"We want to get it right and we want it to look good."

In 2020, the council had to backtrack on a pedestrianisation scheme for Northgate in Wakefield, which had also been conceived to allow cafes and pubs to put tables outside.

Shop owners complained that footfall in the area had fallen significantly, hitting their takings as a result.

Local Democracy Reporting Service