TRADERS have called for action to combat problems on Whitton High Street including crime, high costs and a lack of choice.

Wandsworth Times:

Whitton has 16 charity shops on its High Street.

Shopkeepers claim having 16 charity shops and a crime problem can put people off the area with the latest figures revealing high street sales in Richmond are ten per cent below the national average.

Richmond Council has defended its business rates claiming these are set by the Government.

An employee at Giselle Hairdressers in Whitton said: “If one shop opens then two more close down and on top of that the rents are too expensive.

“We have been here for 44 years, when we came there was a lot more control – you had to ask the council for planning permission if you wanted to convert a shop.

“There are 16 charity shops and the rest are food shops.”

Faydon, the manager at Whitton Dry Cleaners, added: “Business is going down because of dodgy people doing petty crimes.

“We have a lot of elderly people living here and they all go to the charity shops and I think we have too many.

“The council need to give licences so that the high street has restaurants as well.”

Mandy, who manages Debra Charity Shop, claimed the charity shops can encourage people to the shops but agreed there is a lack of choice.

She said: “I don’t think we are the problem as people come out for the day to use charity shops.

“But in all honesty, how many hairdressers and vape stores do we need?

“There is also a lot of theft - we have a High Street WhatsApp group which I had to turn it off because the amount of theft is rife.”

Jane, owner of The Cavan Bakery said: “I’m a small independent business and I compete against Greggs so I wouldn’t say Whitton is dying.

“The high streets quiet steady even though it’s quite a strange high street because we have a lot of charities and could do with local butchers to bring in more trade.”

Councillor Geoff Acton, the lead for business on Richmond Council, said: “Over the last decade Whitton high street has seen a lot of investment, including improvements to the pavements and shop fronts.

“All shops on the High Street are owned by private management companies, and the council cannot dictate or control which businesses open outside of planning controls.

“Any property owner wishing to change their businesses use from a shop to a restaurant can do so by applying through the legal planning process.

“With regards to business rates, these are not set by the council – but by the Government.

“The council actively lobbies the Government for a change in the way that business rates money is decided, collected and disseminated, to ensure that it is fairer on local businesses.

“The council continues to await concrete proposals from Government.”