BUSINESSES have united to fight proposals to pedestrianise their town.

Traders gathered on Wednesday morning to inform the public of their fears that a pedestrianisation scheme proposed as part of plans to regenerate Hexham Market Place would kill trade in the town.

Consultation on the plans, instigated by Northumberland County Council and Hexham Town Council in conjunction with transport charity Sustrans, has been extended for two weeks until March 3 with residents, businesses and visitors asked to vote on their preferred option for either a pedestrianised scheme or an extra parking alternative.

Some traders had voted for the ‘neither’ option to indicate that the area should remain as it is.

Businesses, however, have come out shouting about the disadvantages of pedestrianisation, with some claiming they would be forced to close.

Lorna and Natalie Paxton, of Paxton’s Fish and Chips, shared their concerns this week. Natalie said: “It would kill us. Fifty per cent of our trade comes from people pulling up outside the door and coming in.

“We are on a hill and, if people have to park at Wentworth and walk up, they won’t do it.”

Lorna added: “If they can’t park outside the shop, that would be the end of our business which has been there since 1939.”

Ian Pope, the owner of Deli at Number 4, shared the fears, claiming: “Hexham already has pedestrianised areas in Fore Street and St Mary’s Chare and look how many empty shops are on there. The same will happen in the Market Place.”

Trevor Cessford, county councillor for Hexham Central with Acomb, said the consultation was key to gauge people’s views and he encouraged people to vote before the March 3 deadline.