Traders hit back as Janet Street Porter says Hull will never compete with Continent
TRADERS have hit back at Janet Street Porter's claims that Hull will never boast a thriving European-style city centre.
Hull has bid to become one of 12 pilot towns to trial retail guru Mary Portas's recommendations for reviving the British high street.
The proposals include holding more outdoor markets to create "vibrant European-style evening economies".
Former newspaper editor Ms Street Porter said "windswept" British cities like Hull will never compete with the cafés and outdoor markets enjoyed in Continental towns.
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But retailers in the city have hit back, saying Ms Porter is just relying on an outdated stereotype.
Jim Harris, manager of St Stephen's shopping centre, where footfall has been up every year since it opened in 2007, said: "It is a typical stereotype that people who don't know the city peddle out.
"We have been hearing this now for too long.
"I have a couple of examples where we have bought people to the city, like Super Dry, who just about knew where Hull was and we put them in a black cab from London to the airport, flew them here and they absolutely loved it.
"They opened one of their biggest stores in the north of England. Lipsy were the same.
"We have Krispy Kreme who came to the city, liked what they saw, and are opening in the kiosk here.
"It comes down to what your local shoppers want.
"Firstly, people want security and we have a much safer city than we used to with crime down about 18 per cent year-on- year.
"The other thing is service and we have got one of the friendliest cities in the country.
"We need to get Janet Street Porter here for a couple of weeks to enjoy live music in Princes Dock Street for Half Past The Weekend and sit and enjoy a coffee outside Stanley's in Paragon Square."
Writing in a national newspaper, Ms Street Porter said plans to set up more markets "will not make an iota of difference".
She wrote: "There's a world of difference between going to an evening gastronomic market in the Dordogne, as I did last summer, where you sit at trestle tables in the setting sun and scoff delicious local delicacies listening to a jazz band, and what we can expect in bankrupt, windswept Britain.
"Can Hull, Cumbernauld, Maidstone or Wandsworth compete?"
Jill Lawson, who runs Cuckoos café in Princes Dock Street, said: "Hull has the potential to be a great place to come and eat and shop.
"I had a couple from Manchester come in here this morning who said they couldn't believe all the bad press Hull gets.
"They said the city centre was beautiful, the people were nice and they thought it was a much more pleasant centre to walk around than Leeds or Manchester.
"We just need to make more of Hull's strengths and it could rival anywhere."