By Jonathan Davies

Cardiff businesses near the city's so-called NATO 'Ring of Steel' say trade has dropped by as much as 40% since the fencing was erected.

The nine-foot high fence structure was installed around Bute Park and the adjacent Cardiff Castle, one of the venues of the NATO Summit which is less than a week away.

Dozens of world leaders, including US President Barrack Obama, will be visiting South Wales for the Summit at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort. But Cardiff is hosting several working dinners on the evening of 4 September, and the fences have been installed for security reasons.

But local businesses are claiming that the fence, which is causing major traffic disruption, is affecting footfall and trade in the city.

David Le Masurier, manager of Pettigrew Tea Rooms in Bute Park, likened the city to Jurassic Park. He said: “We have had a massive financial impact in our expected busiest two months.

“The short-term has been tough, particularly as the lead up to summer — May, June, July — has been phenomenal, great weather and people seem to be a lot more confident with spending money and enjoying themselves.

“Then August hit which is normally peak for seasonal trade but on August 7 they started putting up the fence in the park.”

Tess McKenzie, 59, works at Castle Welsh Craft, which is directly opposite Cardiff Castle.

She said: “Once they stopped the crossing between us and the castle that meant the customers coming into the city on a coach tour that normally come across to us can’t because they can’t cross the road.”

In the week before the fence was installed, tourist numbers were up 10%, but takings were down 40% on the day the the fence went up with an overall 30% fall on the week.

Chris Armitt, police gold commander for the summit, said the fence had been installed early to avoid a full closure of the city centre.

“It is designed to provide a secure perimeter. It is heavy-duty infrastructure and it’s there for a specific purpose,” he said.

“It is not, unfortunately, designed to look pretty I suppose but the contractors who have put that in have been given a fairly specific mandate they are working to.

“It is not ideal but the reality is we are charged with looking after 67 world leaders and there is a fair degree of attendant security that goes with that type of event.”

A Cardiff council spokesman said: “We will continue to work with our partners to minimise disruption to businesses, residents and transport providers.”

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