A SKIPTON woman is calling on shops to stop heating the pavements purely to get people to walk into their premises.

And she has won support from local politicians and some retailers in the town.

Karen Darvell was in Skipton with her 84-year-old disabled mother when she was astonished at shops having both doors open in winter with hot air blasting out - and pollution from cars wafting into the premises. Ms Darwell said she was in the High Street and her mother was invited to sit at the front of the shop where there was more room.

“She was sitting directly in a cold draught,” said Ms Darwell. “We shut one of the open doors but a shop assistant opened it again immediately saying the doors ‘had to be open’ although she didn’t know why.

“It was later claimed by that company’s head office that open doors are for “health and safety” and “fire regulation” reasons, but having researched why retailers really pursue this open door policy it is for greater customer footfall.”

Ms Darvell said she has since done some research and recently came across the ‘Close the Door’ campaign, a single issue campaign group which works to stop shops wasting energy by keeping their doors open when using heating or air-conditioning.

“The group is a business-friendly, non-profit organisation founded in Cambridge where now over 500 shops of all types and sizes have signed up to close the door. The campaign is also active in other cities around the country and its volunteers work nationally with the head offices of chain stores.

“Research findings carried out by Cambridge University on behalf of Close The Door shows that leaving doors open whilst heating a store creates up to 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually - the equivalent of three return flights from London to Hong Kong. In this age of public awareness of environmental impact, this is a shocking statistic, particularly if factored across all the stores around the UK with this wasteful and environmentally damaging open doors policy.

“Not only does an open door waste energy but it allows in the pollutants from passing traffic. Shop staff are exposed to more of these airborne pollutants than necessary as a result.”

She said she was surprised shops said it was for health and safety reasons.

“Closing the door saves energy, saves money, reduces carbon footprint and reduces staff exposure to pollutants,” she said.

“Having now realised how widespread this open door policy is amongst retailers, I undertook to campaign in Skipton on behalf of Close The Door.

“The purpose of the campaign is to persuade those shops which currently have an open door policy to consider the wasted energy and environmental impact of leaving doors open whilst running heating or air conditioning.

“Most retailers have reacted very positively to being approached and have been surprised and shocked at the impact leaving doors open causes.

“Following a meeting, Skipton MP Julian Smith has shown very welcome interest in the campaign and offered his support. He has asked to be kept updated with progress.

“Councillor Simon Myers has also given his welcome support to the campaign, persuading Craven District Council to put the idea to a full council meeting at a date to be announced.

“Councillors Andy Brown and David Noland have also offered their support.

“Recently I met with Julian Smith and Councillors Myers and Brown in Skipton to discuss the campaign.

“We met outside Starbucks and M&S, both retail chains which have signed up to closing the door for environmental reasons.

“I was able to share with them that of the retailers already visited on the high street, 56 per cent have a head office policy of keeping doors open although their staff did not always agree with that policy or find it comfortable to work with open doors, particularly through the winter.

“Around 38 per cent of retailers understood the environmental impact of open doors and were happy to keep doors shut whilst running heating or air conditioning and six per cent of retailers would not agree to shut their door.

“This means that there’s work to do to get head offices to understand the damaging impact of their policy and to realise that being environmentally responsible is perhaps more important to customers today than having to open a shop door for ourselves.”

In January this year, Craven District Council launched an environmental scheme to reward people, businesses and organisations for ‘embracing’ green initiatives.

The Green Apple Awards, run by the Green Organisation, recognises those who adopt greener ways of working and living.

The district council put £2,000 towards promotion costs for the scheme.

Among the scheme’s first winners, announced in June, were a vegetable exchange scheme and a village tree planting scheme.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire County Council received a bronze award for reducing street lighting and traffic sign energy consumption by installing energy efficient LED technology.

The council is also converting 55 per cent of its street lighting stock to part night operation.