BUSINESSES on Poole Quay have claimed their end of the town is thriving.

Small independent stores located along the southern end of High Street in Poole have said that, due to recent investment in the area and a close working relationship with Poole BID (Business Improvement District), business has been buzzing.

The Echo published an article last week in which BID manager Ailsa Wilson was quoted as saying she would not recommend “vulnerable independent businesses open in the high street".

The Fisherman’s Café in the High Street has been open for just over a year and its owners, Michael and Clare Bennett, said it had far outreached their expectations.

Michael said: “I can’t comment on other parts of Poole because my business is on the quay and I spend the majority of my time here, but here we have had six or seven businesses that have recently moved to the area and they are still here.

“If you look at all the businesses down here on the quay, the majority of them, apart from the Rockfish and the Stable, are independent businesses. Even those two are very much community-driven and they have their place here.

“Everyone had a bad year last year, that has been covered enough, but everyone is trying to turn things around and, here especially, we feel that we are doing that.”

Poole Quay benefits from a number of BID-led initiatives including the Boat Show, the Jazz Festival and, most recently, the Light Show, which was held last week.

Owner of Tin of Sardines Sam Wansboro said: “The fact that we have a dozen pubs on or close to the quay, and lots of hospitality businesses that are all open and doing well speaks for itself.

“They have got through probably the trickiest period of the year, from New Years to February half term, so if they can survive that, then it bodes well for their business and others in the area.”

Owners said the shops on Poole Quay benefit from a community-focused relationship, sharing staff, staggering their opening times, offering recommendations for other businesses and sticking to their niche products and cuisines.

Michael said: “We have opted not to do a Sunday roast because there are plenty of places around here that do it so why compete with them. We could compete with them, but we have chosen not to.

“Other businesses have said that they don’t sell full English Breakfasts because we do.

“We don’t want to encroach on other businesses and what they do and that is reciprocated for other businesses too.”

Sam added: “Businesses send people to shops based on their reputation and through word of mouth.

“The Thistle Hotel send some of their customers my way, I don’t even know them, but they know that I am the only gin bar in the area.”

Poole’s high street is reportedly facing numerous problems, including underinvestment, anti-social behaviour, drug use, the number of homeless people and the poor state of the bus station.

Sam said: “With regards to the bus station, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone uses it all the time. It is like the Underground in London, because so many people use, it is never going to be a nice space

“Besides, although there are a few businesses there, most people are just passing through or waiting for a bus to go somewhere else, so they don’t spend too much time there.”

Michael said: “There is talk about that cinema complex, and plenty of businesses have moved to our end of the high street recently. Investment is happening in the area.”

On the number of drugs users, Sam said: “They keep themselves to themselves and most of the time, you wouldn’t be able to pick them out on the high street.”

The business owners also claimed they don’t have many issues with rough sleepers south of the railway line.

“Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know what this little community of shops is like unless you come here,” said Michael.

“The most difficult thing for people would be that they need to get down here first.”