From Jo Smith, Newport:

As landlords to a shop in Newport which we also ran ourselves from 1998

to 2005, we have been horrified to see the recent demise to the main

section of Newport High Street.

Please IW Council urgently re-consider your approach to Newport Town Centre.

The combination of huge red plastic barriers in that section of the high street at the very same time as many of the large chain stores in the same area have sadly also closed down, has created a clear message to shoppers that says 'Danger - Do not shop here!'.

Obviously not a message we would wish to encourage, especially when so many shops were struggling even before Covid 19.

We have not seen such barriers installed anywhere else.

Another issue that never goes away in Newport is that of parking charges.

We frequently travel as tourists around the UK and whichever rural county we are in, there are almost always signs when you approach a town that invitingly says 'FREE CAR PARK'.

Why can't Newport offer the same?

The day that parking meters were introduced in Newport was the day that carefree browsers in our shop disappeared.

Instead we are met with customers rushing to get shopping done before their two hours' free parking in Morrisons or Marks and Spencers runs out. Some 17 years ago we were asked by a councillor at a business association meeting to conduct a survey of national car parking fees within rural town centres.

The Isle of Wight came out the most expensive then, as it still seems to now.

So what does our council do post lockdown? They put up parking charges once more.

However, during lockdown, the plan was to remove the ugly barriers and provide 30 minutes' free parking. To shop where I ask myself?

How ironic it seems.