Mobile phone shop owners say they may have to close if Bradford Council pursues threatened enforcement action over the style of their shutters.
The businesses have until May 6 to remove the screens, which fall foul of conservation area rules. But those running the stores, on Ivegate in the city centre, say the roller shutters keep their livelihoods safe and losing them may force them to close.
Last month Bradford Council sent letters to four shops saying owners would have to remove their external security shutters as they went against the local authority’s policy for the conservation area.
But the business owners were defiant and said high crime rates meant the security measures were vital. Now further Council letters have been sent which say if the shutters are not taken down by May 6, enforcement action to have them removed may be taken.
Muhammad Rizwan, owner of Mobile Zone, said shops were targets for raids and in October he had £1,000 of stock stolen.
His letter from the Council said he could appeal the enforcement notice at a cost of £390. He said: “I don’t want to take the shutters down because I don’t think the business would be safe. There isn’t much safety in this area and it hasn’t improved recently.
“We’ve been told we can have shutters on the inside, but people can still break the window and that would cost us £500 to replace. Replacing the shutter would cost me £3,000.
“I’m still thinking what to do at the moment, if I appeal it is going to cost a lot of money and it might not be successful. I think all the businesses will get together to discuss what we’ll do next. We can’t leave our businesses without shutters, it’s not safe.”
Council policy states that shop front shutters are only allowed if they are inside the windows or made of wood. It said roller shutters brought down the look of the area.
Asad Ashraf, of Connecting U, said he has yet to receive the second letter, but expects it soon. He also said he could not afford to replace his shutters.
“We are paying our rates, the Council should be helping us. We’re not making much as it is, if we have to pay this we might just shut up shop.
“If I take the shutters down I’ll get broken into that same night,” he said.
Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s executive member for planning, said it was important Ivegate was as attractive as possible in preparation for the Westfield development and that meant using shutters such as those used in nearby North Parade.
“We wouldn't ask them to take their shutters down and compromise their security. We just ask that they use the right type,” she said.