Traders in Kinross have launched a desperate bid to stay afloat amid fears they could close because of a scheme aimed at improving the town.
A £1 million facelift is currently being carried out in the town centre and the high street is closed until the end of September - by which time some worried shopkeepers say they could have gone out of business.
They say that while they know the work needs to be done, it’s taking too long and the signage is ‘a shambles’ that is deterring customers.
Award-winning butcher Iain Hunter and his wife Pamela, who have built up the business over seven years , say that they’re losing 50 per cent of their trade every day and are hoping they won’t be forced to make any of their eight staff redundant.
“We have lost July altogether,” said Pamela.
“We’re offering free deliveries to customers but it all costs money and while we still have the same overheads we’re making huge losses and we don’t know how long we can keep going.
“Many other high street shops are in the same position. The scheme is supposed to improve the town but could end up destroying it.”
Now Kinross Community Council is writing to Perth and Kinross Council asking for more money to be ploughed into the project, and a meeting was held with officials on Tuesday that Pamela described as ‘positive’.
“One of the main things that urgently needed to be addressed was the confusing signage and this is now being looked at,” she said.
“Visitors think that the high street is a no-go area when in fact there are four car parks, but none of them have been signposted.”
Councillors unanimously rubber-stamped plans for the public realm improvements scheme, despite a raft of objections and even a petition.
The idea is to form a welcoming ‘town square’-style pedestrian area and involves removing kerbs and bus stops, although vehicles will still be able to travel the full length of the high street.
A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said: “We are aware that the construction works are creating a temporary inconvenience for businesses but once these works are complete, residents and visitors to Kinross and Loch Leven will be able to enjoy a much improved High Street.
“It is well evidenced that a high quality public realm and safer environment for pedestrians leads to increased dwell time in town centres, and this scheme will therefore have a significant benefit to the businesses in Kinross.”