Tories claim Leicester council leader is 'cutting the very lifeblood of city'

Published in the Leicester Mercury on 15th February 2017

Conservative activists say the move has been prompted by the upcoming closure of Fenwick and jewellery store Denhams and music shop Sheehans shutting its doors.

They intend to take to the city centre on Saturday to quiz shoppers on what could be done to help the retail sector and then present their findings to Labour city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.

The Conservatives, who have only one elected city councillor, say they have already identified concerns around safety, a lack of adequate parking, and poor standards of cleanliness in the city.

Chairman of the Leicester City Conservatives, Jack Hickey, said: "It is an absolute travesty to lose these iconic local shops, some of which have been a part of the city centre for many years.

"The city centre is being slowly killed off by Labour because they are choosing to ignore the concerns of local people and business owners, and instead investing millions into unwanted pedestrian areas and bike lanes.

"Through his flawed plans, Sir Peter Soulsby is cutting the very lifeblood of the city – blaming Highcross and Fosse Park for taking away business is simply not good enough. We need practical solutions that will benefit the area, instead of causing further destruction."

Sir Peter said: "What they are ignoring is the massive private sector investment that is coming into the city, such as Shearers buying St Martin's and seeking to revamp it.

"The Tories have invented a non-existent crisis and seem to think they can claim to be the solution.

"It's incredible because they have in the past criticised me for investing in the city centre."

Sir Peter said the loss of institutions like Fenwick were the result of a gradual change in retail in the city with shoppers gravitating to the successful Highcross shopping centre.

He pointed out he had reviewed parking in the city centre to reduce and simplify charges to attract more shoppers.