Barriers preventing vehicles from entering York resemble “1970s inner city riot control” and are turning shoppers away, claims a city retailer.

Marcus Doyle complained to City of York Council about the blockade and Road Closure sign in Blake Street, saying they were heavily reducing an already low footfall at a tough time for traders.

Within a day, officers had agreed to take action, attracting praise for their swift response.

“To get someone out from the council within 24 hours and who listened to what we were saying is really positive,” said Marcus, who owns The Yorkshire Soap Company and The Imaginarium in Blake Street.

“I was very angry about it. To put that 1970s road block there, it’s horrendous. A city as beautiful as ours shouldn’t be controlled by a bright orange barrier.”

He said such barriers were often used for a major incident, such as a bomb scare, and sent out the wrong message. 

“People come to it and 50 to 70 per cent of people turn around and go down another street. It is a big sign, saying ‘do not enter’.”

He also raised concerns about the cost to the taxpayer of the barriers being manned, questioning why the money wasn’t being invested in an automated rise and fall system.

Marcus has seven Yorkshire Soap Company shops and said the York and Leeds branches were about 50 per cent down, unlike Beverley, Knaresborough and Hebden Bridge whose sales were up on last year.

“I am not predicting a huge upturn until the middle of July,” he said.

​James Gilchrist, assistant director transport, highways and environment, City of York Council said: “Our city centre is continually changing and adapting as restrictions lift and businesses innovate to create a welcoming and safe environment for residents to visit.

"The extension of city centre foot streets is a key element of this and the temporary barriers, such as those found on Blake Street, are in place to manage restrictions of traffic to ensure pedestrians have ample room to socially distance whilst visiting the city centre.

“Following constructive conversations with local businesses we are working quickly to improve the aesthetic of these temporary structures, whilst rolling out more of our Let’s Be York signage across the city. This should be carried out early next week and will offer a short term improvement.

“As the roadmap to recovery become clearer and if restrictions remain in place for the long term, the council will consider the replacement of these temporary structure with alternatives such as bollards.

“Protecting the health of our city and its residents remains our top priority. However, these measures must also support local businesses to thrive and should not detract from the welcoming, vibrant and considerate city so many enjoy.”