Easter riot has cost us dear and put our reputation back years, say Bristol traders
TRADERS say the Easter riot has cost them huge losses in trade and set the reputation of the area back years.
They say takings have been hit and they are angry at those responsible for the violence.
Today shopkeepers were assessing the damage to their businesses, which is expected to run to many thousands of pounds.
Selena Lanham-Cook, manager of The Social lounge and bar, a couple of buildings down Cheltenham Road from the boarded-up Tesco store, said: "We have been working really hard to make it family-friendly, and I have been trying to get in mums and babies in the day.
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"It has taken a while to get them over thinking of Stokes Croft as a rough area, and I am really worried that this has set it back a few years.
"I fear we have lost them because they feel intimidated, and I don't blame them.
"Our last week's takings are the worst they have ever been, so I am really worried."
Violence erupted on Thursday after police entered the property known as Telepathic Heights, opposite Tesco Express, at about 9.15pm acting on information that there were petrol bombs in the premises. A large crowd gathered as police sealed off the stretch of road and violent clashes ensued lasting until after 4am.
In the days leading up to the violence protesters had been demonstrating outside the store having opposed it before the doors opened on April 15.
Ms Lanham-Cook, who has managed The Social since last September, said: "I didn't think things would go this far. I imagined graffiti and a few eggs being thrown at the windows, but not this. They should have just boycotted the shop.
"Before the riots they were all camped out, and that week we didn't have any of our usual trade."
She said: "My staff went out of the front of the bar on Thursday to protect the glass and tell the rioters not to damage it as it was an independent business.
"I am gutted because I tell everyone how amazing this area is. I love the culture and the vibrancy, and I really think they have set it back and made Stokes Croft look bad."
Further down Cheltenham Road Nick Rolle, who has run Nick's Hairdressing for the last 24 years, said he thought Tesco was good for the area.
And he said a lot of his customers were in favour of it.
He said: "I don't know why people are protesting against it.
"Tesco will bring people to the area, and more professional people who instead of having their hair cut once a year do so more often.
"Tesco here for me would make the area more modern and light."
Security guards continue to patrol the roof of the Tesco store.
Police remain on guard outside Telepathic Heights opposite, which officers raided earlier on Thursday evening.
More than 300 people were involved in the trouble and eight police officers were hurt.
Patrick Rudland, manager of The Pipe and Slippers, opposite Jester's Comedy Club, said his pub had lost £1,500 in takings on Thursday night.
He said: "I think 95 per cent of those people weren't going to do anything violent, but there was bound to be those who were going to take it a bit further.
"I don't condone the violence but it is the arrogance from Tesco, really."
Despite the Tesco Express being closed home deliveries were still carried out.
One of them went to Nicola Gadd and her boyfriend Alex Cater, who live next door to the badly damaged Fred Baker Cycles.
The irony was not lost on Miss Gadd, 24, a patient care co-ordinator for the NHS.
She said: "I don't have a problem with Tesco. I think it is a fair point if people don't want one, but I am sad that so many people turned up and wanted to be angry and violent.
"I think the police did a good job, and couldn't have done anything better."
A Tesco driver, who did not want to be named, hurried with his delivery.
He said: "I just don't want to hang around for too long in case I get something thrown at me."
He said it only half tongue-in-cheek.
● Four people have appeared in court following the riot.
One charged with possessing a petrol bomb with intent to destroy property belonging to Tesco and threatening to destroy or damage property was remanded in custody.
Another charged with violent disorder was also remanded in custody. A third charged with public affray was given bail and a fourth who admitted obstruction was given a 12-month conditional discharge.