St Ives traders worry armed forces will hurt them

St Ives traders are worried that a parade by 42 Engineer Regiment, part of freedom of the town celebrations, and Armed Forces Day – together with traffic restrictions – will put off shoppers on a busy Saturday.

Now Corrine Harwood-Davey, of the La Muse clothes shop, has written to the town council urging closer liaison with traders when major events were planned for the town centre.

But St Ives town clerk Alison Benfield said the event, on June 30, was expected to bring in between 4,000 and 6,000 visitors and that the two elements had been combined to reduce the number of Saturdays facing potential disruption.

A motorcycle festival was to have been held the following day, meaning access would have been affected from Friday night through to Sunday, but it has now been moved to another venue.

Mrs Benfield said the loss of the motorcycle festival, although disappointing, meant that disruption to all but Market Hill was now limited to Friday night and Saturday morning.

Corrine, who has had a shop in St Ives for 18 years, launched a petition urging the council to hold such events on a Sunday to reduce the impact on trade.

She said it had been backed by the majority of independent retailers and some of the nationals – but she had not had the time to carry out a comprehensive survey.

Corrine stressed that there was no objection to the event and they appreciated the amount of hard work involved in organising it, but said holding it on a Saturday, their busiest day, was detrimental to retailers.

“While it will bring people in to the town, they are people who are coming to watch a military parade and not to go shopping and the extra people may be enough to put off those who want to go shopping,” she said.

Corrine said that, like many other towns, trade in St Ives had been hit.

“It really isn’t great at the moment,” she said. “A lot of people have been struggling since Christmas, no-one knows why, although the cold weather hasn’t helped.

“The difference for us between a bad day and a good day could be £1,000 which is a lot of money to me.”

Mrs Benfield said: “It was decided to hold the freedom parade on the same day as Armed Forces Day to minimise the impact on trade there would be if it had been an additional Saturday.”

She said it was hoped the thousands of visitors would make return visits once they had seen what the town had to offer.

Mrs Benfield said the freedom of the town was being granted to the Royal Engineers and that 42 Engineer Regiment from Wyton would parade through the town on Saturday morning.

There would then be more events associated with Armed Forces Day in the town and a chance to see what the 42 Engineer Regiment did at Wyton by application through the town hall.