Football footfall clash between Euros & Rotherham traders

Football footfall clash between Euros & Rotherham traders

By Jill Theobald | 02/07/2022

Football footfall clash between Euros & Rotherham traders

 

SHOP and cafe owners say they are “appalled” and “stunned” by the decision to bring burger vans and an outdoor bar to the town centre during the Women’s Euros — instead of supporting established businesses struggling for trade.

Rotherham Council will relax an order banning street drinking to allow a two-tier bar to open in All Saints’ Square during the tournament, which is bringing four matches to the New York Stadium from next Sunday.

Welcome signs began to spring up in town this week, including a trail leading from Rotherham Central station.

But Allan and Noshy Whitworth, co-owners of Noshy’s Lounge on Upper Millgate; Pantry Cafe owner Michael Green and shopkeeper Akmeemana Silva were feeling decidedly less festive about the plan to bring in outside vendors.

Mr Whitworth said he was frustrated by the council’s plans for the square by Rotherham Minster directly opposite his cafe — which has outdoor seating and extended opening hours — during the tournament.

Three group games and a quarter-final will be held at NYS, bringing visitors and supporters from across the globe for games between the likes of France, Italy, Belgium and Iceland.

The council is closing a number of roads on matchdays and inviting fans and residents to “fan parties” in the town centre, featuring live music, entertainment and football activities.  

But Mr Whitworth and his wife said they had not been consulted about the outside vendors and the first the couple had heard of it was when a customer mentioned a leaflet posted through her letterbox.

“I’m appalled,” said Mr Whitworth, who opened the cafe and outdoor shisha lounge in October last year. “I’m really stunned by it. It’s frustrating and difficult enough running a hospitality venue post-Covid.

“Thousands of football fans from across the world are going to come into the town centre — and they are bringing in burger vans and a ‘two-tier bar’ to compete for the increased footfall.

“I don’t know what they’re playing at.

“My wife and I would have been happy to work with the council on putting on French and Italian-themed meals to enhance our menu offering to visitors from across the world.

“Noshy is Egyptian so she already offers dishes with a twist, like fish and chips or lasagne with Arabic sauces and spices.

“Instead, the council would prefer to take the ground rent from outside vendors.”  

Mr Whitworth said he had been to the council’s Riverside House HQ to complain.  

He added that when RMBC put Euros-themed bunting up in the square, he asked for the ends they were trimming off to put on his canopy, which the council worker gave him — only to return two days later to say they had to be removed.

Mr Green who has run Pantry Café in Red Lion Yard for 15 years, said: “There are enough food outlets in the town centre to cope and they can do with the extra business.  

“Because of the current economic crisis we’re in and still being down on pre-Covid turnover, it’s a struggle. Our bills are going up but turnover isn’t.

“To do something like this — fetch outside caters in when we’re open — is not helping businesses that are in the town centre all year around.

“They should be supporting the businesses that are already here.”

Today’s Express manager Akmeemana Silva — whose shop is next door to Noshy’s Lounge — was also angered by the council decision.

He said hard work had gone into ensuring the shop had a future after previously came under scrutiny over drinkers gathering outside and foresaw problems with the public bar plan.

“After all the blame they gave us for drinking in the town centre that was not in our control and all we’ve been through, I don’t know why they’re giving permission for a bar right outside,” he said.

Mr Silva said the square was meant to be an alcohol-free area, adding: “If the bar is there, people are likely to come back and ask us to sell them alcohol and may get aggressive with staff again when we explain.”

A Rotherham Council spokesperson said: “An information letter was sent out to town centre businesses in May to inform them of plans for the town centre fan party.

“Many shops and cafes, including Noshy’s were visited, and face-to-face discussions around bringing in additional catering to support the existing offer within the town centre took place.

“We’re expecting high numbers of fans and these additional vendors will help meet the high demand and offer greater choice to our visitors.”

Mr Whitworth said he was frustrated by the council’s plans for the square by Rotherham Minster directly opposite his cafe — which has outdoor seating and extended opening hours — during the tournament.

Three group games and a quarter-final will be held at NYS, bringing visitors and supporters from across the globe for games between the likes of France, Italy, Belgium and Iceland.

The council is closing a number of roads on matchdays and inviting fans and residents to “fan parties” in the town centre, featuring live music, entertainment and football activities.  

But Mr Whitworth and his wife said they had not been consulted about the outside vendors and the first the couple had heard of it was when a customer mentioned a leaflet posted through her letterbox.

“I’m appalled,” said Mr Whitworth, who opened the cafe and outdoor shisha lounge in October last year. “I’m really stunned by it. It’s frustrating and difficult enough running a hospitality venue post-Covid.

“Thousands of football fans from across the world are going to come into the town centre — and they are bringing in burger vans and a ‘two-tier bar’ to compete for the increased footfall.

“I don’t know what they’re playing at.

“My wife and I would have been happy to work with the council on putting on French and Italian-themed meals to enhance our menu offering to visitors from across the world.

“Noshy is Egyptian so she already offers dishes with a twist, like fish and chips or lasagne with Arabic sauces and spices.

“Instead, the council would prefer to take the ground rent from outside vendors.”  

Mr Whitworth said he had been to the council’s Riverside House HQ to complain.  

He added that when RMBC put Euros-themed bunting up in the square, he asked for the ends they were trimming off to put on his canopy, which the council worker gave him — only to return two days later to say they had to be removed.

Mr Green who has run Pantry Café in Red Lion Yard for 15 years, said: “There are enough food outlets in the town centre to cope and they can do with the extra business.  

“Because of the current economic crisis we’re in and still being down on pre-Covid turnover, it’s a struggle. Our bills are going up but turnover isn’t.

“To do something like this — fetch outside caterers in when we’re open — is not helping businesses that are in the town centre all year around.

“They should be supporting the businesses that are already here.”

Today’s Express manager Akmeemana Silva — whose shop is next door to Noshy’s Lounge — was also angered by the council decision.

He said hard work had gone into ensuring the shop had a future after previously coming under scrutiny over drinkers gathering outside and foresaw problems with the public bar plan.

“After all the blame they gave us for drinking in the town centre that was not in our control and all we’ve been through, I don’t know why they’re giving permission for a bar right outside,” he said.

Mr Silva said the square was meant to be an alcohol-free area, adding: “If the bar is there, people are likely to come back and ask us to sell them alcohol and may get aggressive with staff again when we explain.”

A Rotherham Council spokesperson said: “An information letter was sent out to town centre businesses in May to inform them of plans for the town centre fan party.

“Many shops and cafes, including Noshy’s were visited, and face-to-face discussions around bringing in additional catering to support the existing offer within the town centre took place.

“We’re expecting high numbers of fans and these additional vendors will help meet the high demand and offer greater choice to our visitors.”