More than 50 Birmingham city centre traders have formed a pressure group claiming independent firms in the city centre are “being left to rot”.
The small and medium enterprises surrounding St Philip’s Cathedral are lobbying the council to reduce business rates, saying the Bullring and re-routed buses have cut footfall in that part of the city centre by more than half.
Under the name of Birmingham Tenants Association they are urging landlords, Retail Birmingham and the city council to back their “Save Our City” campaign, claiming the district will become deserted if independent traders are forced to shut up shop.
Jason Hayward, owner of Saks hair salon in Temple Row, says the tenants’ association is considering a Saturday strike to show the city what the cathedral district will become if small businesses leave.
He said: “That’s absolutely the last thing we need, but if we don’t wake people up fast we won’t be able to carry on anyway.
“A lot of businesses have closed in the last few years, not just because of the economic climate but because of lack of support from the council.
“This part of the city is slowly dying and the council doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it.”
Since the Bullring opened in 2003, smaller traders say there has been a dramatic shift in the shopping focus of the city centre.
More recently, re-routed buses and work on the Midland Metro at Moor Street Station have further reduced footfall around Great Western Arcade, Corporation Street and Temple Row.
And the Save Our City traders expect the improvements at New Street Station to divert attention from their part of the city centre again.
Mr Hayward said: “These are all great things for the city, but you’ve got to start reclassifying the business rates in this area to give these businesses a chance of survival.
“The Bullring does a great job, there’s no doubt about that, but Great Western Arcade is a beautiful place which is now being left to slowly rot.”
Campaigners are lobbying the city council to reclassify small and medium businesses in the Cathedral district, where they are still paying prime retail business rates but are now trading in what they claim is a secondary retail location.