Wiltshire businesses and town councillors are working together to tackle a “dramatic” drop in town centre footfall.

At a recent Devizes Town Council commercial committee meeting, a representative from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) raised concerns put to its adviser by over 40 small businesses in the town.

Traders highlighted a range of issues they believe have contributed to footfall dropping off “dramatically” in recent months.

One of these was the town centre roadworks currently being carried out as part of a £2 million Wessex Water scheme.

READ MORE: Devizes town centre still 'healthy' despite recent closures

Devizes Market PlaceDevizes Market Place (Image: Newsquest)

The report compiled by officers says many businesses have been “suffering since the hit of Covid and have never really recovered.”

The news comes despite several business owners recently telling the Gazette and Herald  they believe the town centre remains in a “healthy” state, but the FSB has highlighted several issues that could increase footfall if tackled.

These include short free parking periods, a lack of signage directing drivers to the town centre rather than around it, the “hassle” of navigating roadworks, and “street drinkers” dominating furniture in the Market Place.

Cllr Jonathan Hunter, leader of the Devizes Guardians, said committee members voted unanimously to work with stakeholders to find solutions to these problems.

While many of these issues are outside the town council’s control, Cllr Hunter sees the FSB’s feedback as “an opportunity” to make town centre improvements.

He added: “I very much embraced what they had to say, they’ve come with some great suggestions that we’ve agreed to embrace with open arms.

“We can work with local businesses to make Devizes a business and shopper friendly environment.

“We haven’t ruled anything in or out, I think we should review the observations step by step, we’re looking at them as opportunities to make the town thrive.”

SEE ALSO: Town centre roadworks delayed as £2m scheme continues

Roadworks in Devizes town centreRoadworks in Devizes town centre (Image: Newsquest)

Wessex Water said it has not been approached directly over concerns about footfall and emphasised it has been in regular contact with customers and businesses to minimise disruption.

This included letters, emails, and face-to-face-meetings about the project’s progress and an advertising initiative to ensure the community was aware local businesses were still trading.

A spokesperson added: “Where there may be individual concerns, we have encouraged businesses to raise these with the project management team via the contact details provided and would urge any businesses to get in touch directly to discuss how we may support them further.

“Our team have worked hard to keep disruption to a minimum throughout the essential £2 million investment into Devizes’ water supply network and we thank businesses and residents for their cooperation and understanding.”