Shop owner fears business will not survive if bus lane installed instead of parking

A Sheffield shop owner who is worried about possible parking restrictions outside her store is calling on new Sheffield City Council leader Tom Hunt to stick to promises made before the elections.

Jill Giannotta, who owns women’s clothes shop More Posh Than Dosh on Ecclesall Road, Banner Cross, says she fears her business will not survive proposals for a bus lane policed by a red line route that will stop customers parking outside her shop during opening hours.

She has recorded an open message to Coun Hunt to find out whether Labour’s opposition to the scheme has changed following the May elections.

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The council has been consulting about the Connecting Sheffield SouthWest Bus Corridors scheme, designed to help buses run more efficiently on Ecclesall and Abbeydale Roads.

Red lines: Sheffield shop owner calls on new council leader to say if parking ban will still be scrappedRed lines: Sheffield shop owner calls on new council leader to say if parking ban will still be scrapped
Red lines: Sheffield shop owner calls on new council leader to say if parking ban will still be scrapped

Proposals in the scheme include making changes to key junctions and putting 12-hour bus lanes in place from 7am to 7pm that would become red routes, marked by a red line. They would be monitored by ANPR number plate recognition cameras to catch anyone parking illegally.

Campaigners against the parking restrictions felt reassured earlier this year after former chair of the council transport, regeneration and climate change policy committee, Labour Coun Mazher Iqbal, said they would be taken ‘off the table’. LibDems, who are the second-biggest group on the council, had already taken the same position.

The committee is due to discuss the issue at its meeting later this month. Jill and other members of the Say No to Red Lines campaign fear that Labour will reverse its position following Sheffield Labour being put into special measures by the party.

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Jill said that, following the Labour group announcement, “so many people said ‘congratulations, you’ve won’ but we have not and then the elections came”.

She added: “The main thing that worries me is that the Labour group has been put into special measures and what also worries me is that the climate change and transport group that we knew that had quite a lot of expertise has now been disbanded and other people have been pushed in.”

Jill said she looked at council leader Coun Tom Hunt’s first public statement that spoke a lot about rebuilding trust: “It’s not a very good start in my opinion that we were told that Labour had gone into special measures after we voted. That could be seen as a cynical move on the part of the Labour Party.”

She suspects that new members of the committee have been put there to “toe the party line”.

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Jill and other campaigners are calling on the council to make its current position on the issue clear.

Banner Cross postmaster Nasar Raoof made the point at last week’s strategy and resources committee, which is chaired by Coun Hunt. He responded that the schemes will be considered in the summer and told him: “Your concerns are heard”.

Jill did some detailed market research with 500 customers and discovered that 30 to 35 per cent would visit her shop less often or not at all if the parking restrictions come in.

She said she could finally be forced to close – the business was badly hit by shop closures during the pandemic lockdowns because her stock went out of season and had to be replaced more than once. As a result, Jill had to lay off staff and close her other shop in Crosspool.

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She said businesses in the area “feel this is hanging over our heads. It’s something else to knock us back”.

“On this parade there are four to five empty units that have not been taken. In earlier times they would have been,” said Jill. “The community are very worried – the community are businesses and residents.

“The community are worried that they may lose shops that they frequent. It just seems like another knockback. We need more clarity from the Labour Party on this.”