AN independent shop is to close in Hereford city centre.

Music Plus in Union Street has been trading for 30 years.

It sells instruments and sheet music, and offers lessons and instrument repairs, but is due to close at the end of January. It is still currently trading.

Owners husband and wife team Norman and Debra Baker say they are quitting at the end of January.

Mrs Baker said: "Footfall has dropped dramatically in recent years as Hereford becomes less attractive as a shopping venue.

"High car parking charges, grubby streets and a lack of choice have all contributed to the problem.

"Music Plus has traded here for 30 years but we have decided Hereford is no longer viable for the business.

"We would like to thank all our customers over the years for supporting small business and we will miss you all."

  • When approached for comment from Hereford Business Improvement district (BID), the membership group tasked with bringing prosperity to city traders, Mike Truelove, Operations and Marketing Manager, issued the following statement:
  • "It is very sad to see a shop leave the city and I appreciate Mrs Baker’s points in terms of the challenges facing Hereford, and indeed, all cities and towns. It certainly is not an easy trading environment with everything from business rates to the internet causing significant challenges. I would however comment that there are a number of things we as an organisation believe can be done to support business, both by themselves, and through the support we have offered since the Hereford BID began in 2015. These include taking advantage of our various campaigns such as Christmas promotions highlighting their products or services, being involved in town trails, being involved in promotional videos, taking advantage of training courses (such as the latest presentation methods for a shop), providing us with offers to send out to our 15,000 strong database of consumers who want to hear about the city…the list goes on. Whilst there is no one single solution to solve the global issue facing shops, many businesses are trying (and often succeeding) to adapt to the market. Hereford is no different and we have a wealth of thriving businesses looking to welcome shoppers, but who are also open to any help that might be available. I think it is important to say that these businesses also actively celebrate the good the city has to offer which is important when attracting visitors to come here.
  • "In terms of footfall, I would disagree that it has dropped dramatically, but that is not to say this is quite different from people actually spending. To this end we recently were successfully voted in for a second term with an exciting business plan that will see continued support and help for our member businesses. This includes a powerful loyalty programme that we are currently developing and comes with a strong track record of success in other locations. Regarding car parking, we accept that no one, including ourselves, want to pay for car parking but Hereford is clearly a popular destination with inward investment and new shops opening. Without charges the spaces would be unmanageable and are priced comparably with other locations. If car parking was an issue for shoppers those spaces would not be filled. We know this is an issue for some businesses and have actively represented businesses to Herefordshire Council when consultations have taken place.
  • "I would add as a final point that Hereford BID has asked the Council several times if they will provide a hot steam cleaner that will truly lift and remove the stains from the pavements, The city used to have one and they cost in the region of £80k plus the requirement of a full time operative. Whilst the city is not always pristine, we actively work behind the scenes to challenge when things are not quite right with the service provided, but equally, we are very aware that the budget for street cleaning is much lower than 10 years ago. To put this into perspective, the Old Market have around 8 operatives to keep it clean whereas the county as a whole has approximately 12 BBLP staff. Our own small handy person team of two part timers progressively remove street gum, paint street benches, wash empty shop windows and so on. Clearly this is task that requires a combined effort from all partners and is one that Hereford BID often leads upon. The net result is a city that is often bustling and ready for business, but, we will always strive to do more".