DOZENS of jobs across 12 retail units in Paisley are at risk of redundancy due to social distancing barriers imposed across a stretch of pavement on Glasgow Road.

Business owners took to the street this morning with protest plaques as they made calls to the council to take down the barriers - which they described as having a “detrimental” impact on their customer footfall.

Since the barricades were put in place, shop owners have seen their takings drop by as much as 40 per cent as customers don't have access to car parking space along the stretch in front of their shops.

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Dezmond Barr, who owns Sinclair Barr Newsagents and who is also spearheading the campaign, told the Glasgow Times: “After the hard last two months we have just had, our businesses are just starting to get back on their feet and we have now had these bollards imposed on us.

“There has been no consultation around the damaging impact these barriers will have on businesses in this area. There has been no detail of what the council are hoping to achieve from them.

“As business owners, each and every one of us is taking COVID-19 very seriously and we are adapting to make our businesses safe for our customers and employees. We’ve got no wish to be at heads with the council but it is hard when they make decisions that turn out to be detrimental for our business livelihoods.

“Every business here depends on parking and we are paying for it. Some of us are 90-second businesses – people run in to buy their paper, milk or sandwich and they absolutely need parking to be able to stop to make that quick passing.

“If there could have been some sort of discussion before this, it could have been a lifeline for our shops.”

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The social distancing barriers are part of a £105,000 Spaces For People project that is meant to create an extra-wide pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

One business owner named Jamie Henderson, who had to transform his shop in order to stay afloat, described the installation of the barriers as the “final nail in the coffin” for his eatery.

He said: “My business actually had to flip and reinvent itself after the barriers were installed. It was the final nail in the coffin for us – if we didn’t reshape, we’d have to close.

“We were a café beforehand and we had to revamp to a Mexican takeaway to keep going. It was the absolute final nail in the coffin, lockdown didn’t help but when the barriers were put up nobody could access my shop.

“Trade went down, nobody could park and people were complaining. A few customers said that they wanted to come to us but they couldn’t park their cars up as normal, so we lost out. It has pretty much killed the trade.

“We just want to see them gone, they’re needless and pointless and from what we have seen, they don’t ensure social distancing anyway. The kids walk in groups together anyway.

“In terms of footfall, its devastating and its killing us.”

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Meanwhile, Hayley Barnes who owns So Beau beauty salon, told how her business is now inaccessible to elderly and disabled people due to the installation of the barriers.

She said: “As well as causing us a loss to our business, it has massively affected my disabled clients who now can’t get in and out of my salon which is the last thing I want.

“We weren’t consulted and we were told they were going to be here for a matter of days… two months later, they’re still here.

“In those two months, I’ve noticed my footfall drop around 30 to 40 per cent. Times are really hard enough as it is. We just want them to be removed.
“This isn’t really a busy section of the road and when the schoolkids pass over, most of them wear facemask anyway. Otherwise, there’s no need for them to be here.”

A Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: “We’re sorry to hear of the issues being raised in relation to temporary barriers installed to widen the footway to enable physical distancing to take place, recognising the narrow pavement at this location which is a busy area, with a secondary school nearby.

“Unfortunately a press release on behalf of business owners relating to this has a number of inaccuracies which detracts from the important issues facing local businesses.

"To help clarify, neither Police Scotland nor Sustrans have raised any safety issues with us and the widened pavement is not a cycle lane, while no lane on Glasgow Road has been removed to accommodate the barriers and access to the bus stop has been maintained.

"We appreciate the importance of having parking available to access local facilities and there is ample parking at this location, both on the opposite side and elsewhere on Glasgow Road, on adjacent streets and at off-street car parks behind some of the businesses mentioned.

“Affected businesses were visited and notified in advance of the barriers being installed and again following their implementation, with their views considered alongside a review we commissioned to consider any improvements.

"This review has highlighted no safety concerns and we will take forward its recommendations in consultation with Sustrans and local business owners, continuing to support the businesses in the area while ensuring the protection of public health remains the priority.

“We recognise the impact Coronavirus has had on local businesses and have been running a campaign encouraging people to Spend Local.

"We continue to listen and consider all available ways to play our part in assisting local businesses, which has seen us award more than 2600 government grants to small businesses in Renfrewshire, providing £28million in immediate support, and following a survey of 500 local companies on what they need, we have introduced a series of tailored loans and grants to enable businesses to adapt, recover and restart. Full details on business support is available on our website.”