BUSINESS owners from one of South Tyneside’s most famous streets are begging council chiefs to preserve it for the future.
Trade has been noticeably falling for the curry shops in Ocean Road, South Shields, during the last four years.
The majority of businesses have reported their takings are down by 20 per cent and bosses are worried about the future of the street which saw its first curry restaurant open in 1958.
Now members of the Bangladeshi Caterers Federation – which was established last year to represent the area’s Bangladeshi-owned restaurants and takeaways – are urging council bosses to step in.
While the street is being upgraded as part of the town’s 365 Regeneration Plan, they feel that the lack of trade in King Street has a domino effect on Ocean Road.
Lalon Amin, general secretary of the federation, said: “While we embrace the regeneration plan, Ocean Road is an integral part of our town and for the last four years business has been deteriorating,
“We have concerns that King Street has become stale, less business there has a domino effect on Ocean Road, so we would like to see the council investing their efforts in attracting more high street shops.”
The group is pleased with the flood defence works which were carried last year after a number of properties were flooded in recent years.
And they are also looking forward to seeing the current improvement works being finished.
But members say all the disruption has made it difficult for customers to access their restaurants at times and more needs to be done to promote the area.
Forhad Ali, chairman of the federation, said: “Most of the takings are down now by 20 per cent at least. A few years ago we’d have customers travelling from Newcastle and Chester-le-Street. Ocean Road is famous for its curries, it’s a unique selling point for the town, yet the council never seems to promote it, or include it in its What’s On Guides.
“We are all genuinely worried about the street’s future, something needs to be done to save it.”
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “Ocean Road is an important cultural asset attracting millions of visitors to its array of restaurants, B&Bs and guest houses every year. It also acts as a key link between South Shields town centre and our stunning seafront.
“South Tyneside Council values Ocean Road as a major tourist attraction for the borough and promotes it as such, with a view to boosting the number of visitors from outside the area.
“Ocean Road features heavily in all our destination marketing, including in our annual visitor guide and other literature, on our website and in our media releases. Our Visitor Information centre offers advice about accommodation and restaurants, including the large selection on Ocean Road.
“The council encourages and supports Ocean Road businesses in entering awards, in particular the North East Tourism Awards, and last year Indian restaurant Zeera was shortlisted in the Taste of England category.”
£3.5million project set to begin
WORK costing £3.5m is set to be done on Ocean Road over the next few months.
A new road surface, high-quality paving and boulevard-style rows of hornbeam trees have already been completed at the Anderson Road end of Ocean Road, near the town centre.
Now work has begun to improve the appearance of the street between Baring Street and Lawe Road.
This includes providing a new road layout with better positioned parking bays as well as new footpaths which will be widened on the southern side.
New trees and public art will also be installed.
Coun John Anglin, the council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “Ocean Road is an important cultural asset attracting millions of visitors to its array of restaurants, B&Bs and guest houses every year.
“It also acts as a key link between South Shields town centre and our stunning seafront.
“These improvement works are all about making the street more attractive and inviting for residents and visitors, and will help to draw seafront visitors into our town centre.
“We are delighted to see work starting on the next phase of the scheme. The regeneration is going to make a huge difference to the area, and we look forward to seeing it completed.”
Phase Two comes after major flood prevention works, which were led by Northumbrian Water and followed by council-led works along Ocean Road and the surrounding streets.
This work to improve the drainage of surface water will continue in the Lawe Top area, while the next phase of Ocean Road improvements get under way. Phase Two is expected to be completed in the autumn.
Traffic management measures will be put in place during the works where necessary to enable the works to be carried out.