BOURNEMOUTH'S seafront is getting too much attention from the council to the detriment of longstanding firms in the town centre, businessmen say.

They add more has to be done to attract visitors, both tourists and residents, beyond the sand and Lower Gardens if the business and hospitality industry is to survive. 

This is the stark warning from the owners of the ‘next level’ jacket potato restaurant Kumpi, in Old Christchurch Road. 

Ozan Kulaksiz and Onur Guvenc, who came up with the ‘franchise’ at university fear the worst for the town centre after seeing a “massive decrease” in footfall in recent months.

Bournemouth Echo: Empty shop unit in Old Christchurch RoadEmpty shop unit in Old Christchurch Road (Image: Daily Echo)

Ozar said: “We are finding it very difficult with the situation in the town centre. 

“We have our regular customers; however, we have identified a couple of problems in the town centre and one of which is the way the high street is going.

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“Ever since Lidl and Wilko left, the only big retailers we have left are TK Maxx and FatFace and the footfall has dropped massively. 

“The council is investing on the beachside too much with pop-up restaurants and there are too few options for visitors on this side of the gardens.” 

Bournemouth Echo:

He said there is “no reason” for people to come into town and spend their money and that even the markets every Sunday are “killing businesses”. 

Ozar called for attractions and investment to be put into Old Christchurch Road and Commercial Road to combat the problems.

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“We pay huge council tax, as high as the rent itself, at £30,000 a year and on top of that we pay an extra £200 a month for bin collections, alcohol licence, all additional costs. 

“I don’t know why we are paying the council this much and we get nothing in return. 

“We don’t see any improvement on our street and the council is very strict on things like tables being out and getting told off for it and them handing out fines to businesses.” 

Bournemouth Echo: They said too much attention is given to pop-up seafront restaurantsThey said too much attention is given to pop-up seafront restaurants (Image: Daily Echo)

Onur added: “During the Christmas markets, most of the businesses are not based here but the council sells the contract to them and they take all the money. 

“The businesses who are here all year do not see any benefits from this, we have no return or extra footfall. 

“We wanted to turn our business into a nationwide brand, we want to see it grow and be Bournemouth-based. But we can’t achieve it because of all the issues with the council and the town centre.” 

The pair propose that the council fines landlords if their units are left unoccupied for a long time and suggested rent should be slashed by 50 per cent after two years of emptiness. 

Cllr Millie Earl, deputy leader for BCP Council, said: "Bournemouth is a great place for people to visit, especially as we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

"With the change in administration following elections in May, we are currently reviewing the Seafront Strategy and looking to update it to reflect the priorities of the new cabinet and council, especially around commercial uses of the beach.

"We are hoping to bring a paper forward in January to cabinet that will set out our approach going forward."