BUSINESS owners in part of Minehead say they are struggling to survive one of the toughest trading periods in years and are calling on West Somerset Council for help.
The County Gazette has spoken to traders at the lower end of The Avenue, some of whom say they feel the area has been “neglected”.
Lisa Walker, from Once Upon A Cupcake, said she would have to close her shop again over the winter.
She has been in business for just over a year, and closed last winter as she couldn’t afford to stay open.
Lisa feels traders there are not getting enough support from the council and says more should be done to promote the lower end of the town, such as improved signage and regular events.
The mother of one said: “I don’t want to close again in the winter but it’s something I am going to have to do because there just aren’t enough people coming to this end of town.
“Some of the locals just don’t seem to know we’re here and it’s a shame.
“I think I was perhaps a bit naive opening a shop but you have to keep on going, I might have to just work from home again though because it is a struggle.”
Lisa added that something should be done to promote the lower end of town.
She added: “We all pay our business rates and all the businesses in this town work extremely hard, but a lot of this end are independent, we need support from the council or something.
“There’s only so much you can say, but nothing seems to happen.
“We don’t even have Christmas lights down here, we are neglected I feel.
“I opened for the local people, not the tourists and holidaymakers; I just don’t know what we can do.”
Vickie A-Court who owns Atlantis said that the lower end of The Avenue had been neglected for years.
She said: “I am always concerned for my business and I know of a few shop owners who that potentially won’t be here trading next year.”
Another trader who wished to remain anonymous said he had never seen such low footfall in the town.
He added: “There has just been such a low footfall throughout the whole town this year; I’ve never known it to be so bad.
“I am very concerned about my business and about having to close.
“I wish I knew what had changed because then I could do something about it but I just don’t understand.”
Kathrine Willnetts from The Wheelhouse Snackbar said her business was doing well.
She said: “We’ve been here for 21 years so luckily a lot of people know us and know where we are.
“We have a good mix of locals and holidaymakers who come back year on year.
“We close every winter for about six weeks but that’s always been the case.”
Cllr Tim Taylor, leader of West Somerset Council, said: “West Somerset Council is very mindful of Minehead and of providing money and resources from our very limited budget.
“We set up the Minehead Vision Group to help traders and with that we have developed things at the lower end of the town near the seafront.
“We have the museum there, the tourist information centre and the Beach Hotel.
“It cannot all be down to the council, the traders need to come together preferably with the Vision Group and look at what they can do to help themselves.
“We don’t have an unending pot of gold, but we are aware of needing to boost tourism and we are doing what we can.”