Three independent traders in Newcastle-under-Lyme who have been the victims of robberies just 24-hours apart claim the council have shown ‘no compassion’.
Brazen burglars have smashed their way into three businesses just days and yards apart in the town centre.
The owners of neighbouring businesses, Hounds, and The Cakery, on Fogg Street, had their shop windows smashed and the locks hacked off their front doors in the early hours of yesterday.
Just a day earlier, Barber Life, on Merrial Street suffered a similar attack.
The owner, Kyle Jones claims more needs to be done by the council to support independent business tenants in council owned properties.
“I’m disappointed to be honest, this has happened so regularly on this street in the last ten months and nothing is ever done about it,” said Jones.
“There’s no support, no protection, it’s just a case of get your window smashed, business ransacked and then cover all the costs yourself.”
Jones, 32, believes that CCTV is not enough to deter thieves but has been informed by the council that to he would need to apply for planning permission to secure his shop with shutters.
“Ideally, I’d prefer shutters, but the council won’t allow us to have shutters unless we apply for planning permission, even though it is a council owned building. To me it just seems like another way they can make money out of you.
“They say shutters are not in keeping with the town, but you walk around and everywhere has broken windows. Surely, it’s better to have shutters at night and no broken windows to look at in the day.”
Harriet Gallimore, 28, owner of The Cakery, which is a cake and coffee shop, expressed her anger about being issued a parking ticket whilst parking at the rear of her shop on an empty council owned car park.
“We parked there because we had to. We were bringing our stock to the car because it wasn’t secure in the shop,” said Gallimore.
“We were then told that we were ‘taking advantage of the situation’ and were given a parking ticket,” said Gallimore.
“Two ladies from the council did eventually turn up and removed the parking ticket, but why was it ever allowed? They knew what was going on. Where is the compassion?
“It’s a worry in this town. This is not just an isolated incident, this time it was three shops in 24-hours and nothing ever changes.”
The owner of Hounds, a shop which sells treats and accessories for dogs as well as a offering a pet grooming service, Anya Szczur expressed her concerns about the councils lack of urgency when responding to the situation.
“We didn’t receive any support yesterday until we had to lose our tempers. I don’t feel like it should’ve got to that point,” said Szczur, 28.
“At the minute I am struggling to understand their lack of compassion and lack of wanting to get involved.”
In a statement provided by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Cllr. Paul Northcott, Cabinet member for planning and growth, said: ““We were made aware of these burglaries yesterday morning and officers from our Property Team went round to see the victims.
“They have also been round today to offer further support. Repairs to the premises are the responsibility of the tenants but we have given advice where appropriate.
“Our officers are aware of some issues tenants in Fogg Street have raised with regards to parking and we are listening to what they have to say and hope to come back with some proposals to support them in due course.
“As portfolio holder responsible for economic development and growth I am fully aware of the important role that independent businesses have in our town centre and we will do what we can to ensure they stay and play their part in our plans to develop a vibrant and active Newcastle.”
Staffordshire Police are appealing for witnesses following the break-ins.
Witnesses should call the police on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555111