FOOTFALL continues to be down in Salisbury, with a million fewer people visiting the city last year compared to 2017.

It is “possible” that today’s news of plans to dismantle the roof of Skripal’s former home would cause further negative impact on footfall to the city, according to Bob Jones, vice chairman of Wiltshire Council’s environment select committee.

The poisoning of two people in Amesbury and subsequent death of Dawn Sturgess, a BBC Panorama episode about the attack and Tuesday’s (January 8) news that Sergei Skripal’s roof is due to be dismantled, have all had a direct impact on footfall, according to statistics revealed by the council.

Cabinet member for the recovery, Pauline Church said: “Footfall is 16.3 per cent down compared to 2017.

"Footfall fell in March and since then really not recovered in the way we hoped.”

Speaking to the Environment Select Committee in Trowbridge, Cllr Church explained Wiltshire Council had spent more than £4m to boost footfall and keep businesses open.

When asked whether £1.5m spent from Wiltshire Council reserves will be recovered from central Government, Cllr Church added: “Efforts are being made to try get more money and the Government has a focus on us but there are other ways this can benefit us other than financially.

"Wiltshire is higher up the agenda for central government and that is where we will get benefit."

The Salisbury Business Improvement District (BID) said these figures were incorrect: "The city was down 8.7 per cent year on year and the South West was also down six per cent year on year.

"The UK as a whole was down 2.1 per cent. 

"December compared to November, Salisbury’s footfall was up by 12.7% and compared with the UK which was up 5.3% - this is excellent news for Salisbury.

"It’s clear the city hasn’t fully recovered, however there are some encouraging results within the reports for the Christmas period.

"The BID’s monthly footfall figures can be found on our website:"