Many businesses favour opening Abington Street to traffic

Graeme Cook from Albert J Ramsbottom in Abington Street.
Graeme Cook from Albert J Ramsbottom in Abington Street.

Many businesses based in Abington Street said they were broadly supportive of the scheme to re-open the top of the road to traffic.

Opposition councillors have claimed the firms they spoke to were 100 per cent against the proposals.

But this did not tally with the comments given to the Chron yesterday morning.

Graeme Cook, who has worked at fish and chip restaurant, Albert J Ramsbottom, since 1982, worked in the town when Abington Street was pedestrianised.

He said: “We originally objected to pedestrianisation because we felt it would interrupt trade. The change back now is a gamble, but I personally think it will be okay.

“We need to get Northampton back to what it used to be. When I first came here, it was thriving and bustling.

“But I think it will be five or six years before we see the benefit.”

Richard Jakes, the manager of Watts the Furnishers ,in Abington Street, said: “The directors and myself think it is a positive thing.

“We’re pleased about the parking bays, as people will be able to just pop into our shop.

“We’re also very hopeful it’s going to bring a bit of life back into the street. We’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

John Sheinman, Northampton BID director, and owner of the Sheinman Opticians practice, is working on a project to re-brand the top of Abington Street near his shop as the Eastgate Quarter.

He said: “Pedestrianisation had a negative effect on town centre commerce, there’s no question about that. Abington Street, more than any other road, has suffered.

“So I’m looking forward to the scheme. We’re at a critical point and have an opportunity to sell the town centre on its traditions.”

Mr Sheinman is also pushing for the current 24-hour disabled parking provision in the street to be brought in line with the rest of the town. He said this would benefit the night-time economy.

He said: “To me it seems common sense that disabled people are not heavy users of the town centre after 6.30pm.

“They don’t need to have those bays for 24 hours and they can also park on double yellow lines.”

But not all businesses were positive about re-opening Abington Street.

Iqbal Ramzan, the owner of clothes shop, Melody, said: “If it has a negative effect, what are they going to do? Are they going to compensate us?

“Nobody from the council has come here and explained why they’re doing it.”