20,000 signatures but no extra cash

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Demolition-threatened shops on Devonshire Street have had no increase in business – despite 20,000 signatures to save them from the wrecking ball.

Hundreds of people also staged a protest at the town hall ahead of a decision to knock down stores including Rare & Racy

Now, they have been urged to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ to support retailers.

Paula Whiteside, manager at the Natural Bed Company, said: “I can’t say that we’ve noticed any upturn since the petition.

“I think the only way businesses like us are going to survive is if people do also put their money where their mouth is.

“It’s a very difficult situation. We have been really pleased by the support but we are aware that the buildings do need a certain amount of refurbishment as well.

“Independent retailers keep Sheffield going.”

Nick Morgan has owned Filibuster and Booth on Devonshire Street for more than 20 years after moving from Ecclesall Road.

He also said takings were unchanged and hit out at Sheffield Council’s city centre strategy.

He said: “Any city should be judged by the quality of its independent shops that give it its character and heart.

“It didn’t surprise me that my takings haven’t gone up as a result of the demonstrations. I’m surprised anybody still comes into town. The way people talk about it, you would think every shop’s being demolished and we’re surrounded by drunks, when in actual fact it is still vibrant, there are still interesting shops and it is safe. We should encourage more people to come.

“If we’re not careful we’re going to lose all that. The city centre will gradually become denuded and there won’t be any independent shops left.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve lost at least 15 or 20 local shops and I can’t see the prospect of any more coming in.

“I don’t know how anybody can start up a shop at the moment. We seem to be getting knocked back every two minutes. It costs £25 to park outside my shop for a day, that’s outrageous.”