Seaside events fail to attract customers to Seaham town centre businesses, claim traders

Businessman Keith Dobson is concerned about the bottom of Church Street in Seaham being ignored whenever the Town holds carnivals or special events.
Businessman Keith Dobson is concerned about the bottom of Church Street in Seaham being ignored whenever the Town holds carnivals or special events.
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SHOP owners have accused civic leaders of failing to attract business towards their stores during major events.

Traders in Church Street, Seaham, claim they are ignored during big events in the town as entertainment is focused on the seafront.

Recent festivals have included the annual carnival and a vintage and specialist car show.

Business owners at the South Crescent-end of Church Street believe custom is being driven to already popular areas, rather than those which are struggling on the rundown street.

Keith Dobson, who runs Food for Thought American-style sandwich shop, said: “This is my second year here and it’s the second year Seaham Town Council has missed us out on the carnival.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the shops at the bottom of Church Street. We were given flyers to put in the window about it and live music was on the street, but it was outside Wetherspoons.

“I counted up to 60 families who came up the streets and said it was a disgrace, and how stupid it was there was nothing here for the kids.

“The mayor was standing outside our window but never came in to speak to me.

“It’s such a shame because I’m planning to expand to open an American diner with two more staff, and if there’s more, that helps the other shops as well.

“We’re getting people off the dole, but it’s very difficult.

“Last year the American car show had stuff on the street, but they had nothing up here either.”

Seaham Town Council organised the three-day carnival and said there had been an increase in activities on Church Street this year, with another children’s ride added to the two set up last year.

It has said it has previously received complaints from business in the street about the noise, when it has laid on entertainment at events such as at the launch of the town’s Friday market.

Deputy town clerk Paul Fletcher said: “On carnival day, we removed two rides from the seafront because we found the area was doing quite well already and there was a big stage.

“We put extra rides on Church Street and it was very busy when the mayor walked past. We can’t please everybody, but we are doing what we can.

“In a time when some places are cutting back, we’re trying to do more with what we have.”

Cindy Bettcher, who runs Lickety Split ice cream parlour in North Terrace, was involved in organising the car show earlier in the summer.

She said cars had been on Church Street after the bollards to the pedestrian area had been lowered, but left after a short time because no one was around.

She added: “We worked tirelessly to get cars here on the day and we tried to get the people on the bottom of Church Street involved, but some of them wouldn’t even sell raffle tickets.

“Maybe if they made an effort, then maybe they would get something out of it for themselves.”