Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

'Double whammy' for town traders

Pontypridd town centre
Traffic is restricted in Pontypridd town centre six days a week

A valleys town centre is being hit by a "double whammy" of traffic restrictions and the recession, it has been claimed.

Pontypridd Chamber of Trade chairman Gianni Orsi said fewer people were visiting since traffic was restricted along part of the main street.

He said he believed people were now put off coming into the town centre because "they think access is too difficult".

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said visitor numbers had increased in December and it was working to regenerate the town.

Mr Orsi, who owns two cafes in Pontypridd, said: "We've had the double whammy of the traffic restrictions and the credit crunch. We've had numerous discussions with the local authority about it.

"The point is we're in decline. The credit crunch does not stop people from going out of their house and going into town.

We find it hard to believe that the introduction of a traffic management scheme can adversely affect the town
Rhondda Cynon Taf council

"Even if they can't buy anything they can still go in and look. My belief is they don't come to Pontypridd because they think access to it is too difficult."

Mr Orsi said figures showed that "pedestrian movements" at the southern end of Pontypridd had fallen from almost 153,000 in September 2007 to 106,000 in September 2008.

He said a comparison of the figures for October 2007 and 2008 showed a similar decline.

Traffic is unable to access a large section of Taff Street between 1100 GMT and 1600 GMT from Monday to Saturday, although a town centre bus runs through every nine minutes.

The restrictions were originally introduced in late 2007 on a temporary basis but have since been made permanent.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said the traffic restrictions had helped create a "more pleasant shopping environment".

Economic downturn

"We find it hard to believe that the introduction of a traffic management scheme can adversely affect the town," said the authority in a statement.

"The access to car parks in the town centre has not changed and in fact we have opened a large new multi-storey car park at St Catherine's Corner with easy pedestrian access to the town."

The council said it recognised the impact the global economic downturn was having on town centres and was working with the assembly government to ensure Pontypridd received investment.

Detailed design work was taking place for the improvement of Taff Street which would lead to "major regeneration".

The council said there had been an increase in the number of pedestrians at the northern end of Taff Street in December 2008 compared to the previous year.

"Daily averages from September to December 2008 show a growth of 38.5% - a rise from 4,516 in September to 5,936 in December," added the council.

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