Pensioner call for action over Jarrow shopping centre clutter
Retailers at one of South Tyneside's biggest shopping centres have been accused of putting customers at risk of accidents by cluttering pavements with their wares.
Retired menswear store manager Jimmy Guy says he is fed up with having to watch where he walks at Jarrow’s Viking Centre.
He is also concerned that shoppers can now find themselves struggling to get close to shops to shelter under their canopies from rain and bad weather.
He insists that was one of the attractions of the privately-owned centre when he managed its former Burton store for 30 years.
Mr Guy, who was born in Jarrow but now lives in Hebburn, and who retired in 1996, has now urged the centre’s management to rethink policy.
He said: “It’s unkind, it’s unjust and it’s unfair on shoppers using the centre. It’s got out of hand.
“You have to watch where you walk, because so many shops have extended their floor space out onto the pavement.
“It’s dangerous to everyone, but especially so for people in wheelchairs and for anyone who is blind. It’s been getting worse for ten years.
“In my day, I would welcome people into the shop to take shelter if it was raining, it was something you just did.
“But these days they can’t even shelter under the canopies of shops because they are cluttered with products.
“You have to say that if it was Bethlehem and Joseph and Mary were trying to find shelter, they’d really struggle.”
But retailers hit back at the claims – and the centre’s management also denied there was an issue.
Natalie Brown, 38, an assistant at Farnsworth fruit and vegetable outlet, said: “I’ve worked here for ten years and there’s been no complaints.
“Customers often tell us how nice our outside display looks and as far as I’m concerned it helps to brighten up the shopping centre.”
And Bob Baker, 66, tenant of Rosie’s Café, added: “People like to sit outside here to enjoy a cigarette and a coffee.
“We have barriers at both sides of where our tables and chairs are, so the area is safe for anybody passing.”
Centre manager Lee Kimber said: “It is written into the tenancy agreement that permission can be sought.
“I will happily listen to any customer who has an issue around this and can easily be approached with any concerns.”