BUSINESSES in Albert Road claim they are losing custom due to a drastic decline in the area since the road was pedestrianised.

Keith McNicol, managing director of Richmond Classics, said: “By closing the road, they’ve made it so there’s no footfall or traffic, hence creating an area to do criminal activity.

“The last straw was a camper arriving on the pavement. I don’t have any problem with people who are homeless, but if they are homeless, they need to be looked after.

“If the council hadn’t done what they’ve done, and had it still opened as a road then maybe they wouldn’t put a tent there.

“Bournemouth High Street is disintegrating before our very eyes and it started with Marks & Spencer.

“The council are prostituting the area.

“They’ve done Beale Place and spent £1 million, and now Beales is about go.”

The owner of Creams Café on Albert Road – which was broken into a couple of months ago – Shiar Calsh said: “I pay £26,000 a year business rates and I am getting nothing for it.

“The council didn’t listen, and they never will. It’s like talking to a brick wall. There is a tent outside and two or three people go in there. I don’t know if they’re doing drugs, I can’t see but there is something going on.”

The government gave the council a tranche of cash last year to help with the rough sleeping strategy.

Councillor Kieron Wilson, BCP Council’s cabinet member for housing, said the funding helped house a large number of people across the area.

“We are committed to reducing and ultimately eliminating rough sleeping from our streets, which requires continued persistence and a willingness to try new approaches,” he said.

Councillor Mark Howell, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Revitalising and reinventing our high streets and local centres is a key priority for the council and a major part of this is ensuring we create an environment where people and businesses can thrive.

“The investment at Beale Place has completely transformed this part of the town centre and is an excellent example of taking an area that was once dominated by the car and turning it into an attractive and exciting place for people to enjoy.”