SHOPKEEPERS claim repeated demonstrations outside David Cameron’s constituency office in Witney are hitting their trade.
The retailers said protestors have been holding events outside the High Street office as frequently as once a week on a range of issues since he became Prime Minister in 2010.
They said the final straw came last Tuesday when about 300 anti gay marriage campaigners attempted to delivered a petition to the constituency office.
Mr Cameron, MP for Witney, said: “The right to peaceful protest is an integral part of any democratic society and it would not be right for me to intervene in this process.”
He added that, while he appreciated the views of the anti gay marriage campaigners, he was a “great supporter” of the proposed changes.
Fiona Fletcher-Marfell, manager of The Old Pill Factory in High Street, which sells antiques and vintage homeware, called for protestors to demonstrate somewhere else.
She said: “It is not necessarily the cause, it is the lack of thought in this recession of the effects of their actions.
“My takings were definitely down by more than £100 during that period last week, which is normally my busy period. We had less than a quarter of the footfall we would expect.
“Last year, when the weather was nicer, it felt like every week there was a group out there.
“They do not have to be standing outside his office to make their views known. They could stand in a field somewhere not affecting people.”
Mrs Fletcher-Marfell accepted that Mr Cameron being Prime Minister had brought trade to the town.
Jon Timms, manager of Denshams Butchers in High Street, said: “When you get a lot of people protesting outside the shop it puts people off from coming up this end of town.
“Maybe they could go somewhere still in public but away from businesses to stop people being put off from going into that part of town.”
Witney Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Lynne Shawyer said: “Anyone would sympathise with the businesses in that vicinity but unfortunately if people are demonstrating peacefully it is not breaking the law.
“But out of courtesy they could do it on Church Green where they are not in front of premises.
That would be a more polite way of doing it.”
Former Chipping Norton Conservative branch chairwoman Cicely Maunder, who resigned from her position over the issue of gay marriage, was at last week’s demonstration.
She said: “I am sorry if it disrupts the businesses.
“But had Mr Cameron’s office shown us the courtesy of receiving the petition we probably would not have stayed there knocking on the door.”
She said holding a demonstration elsewhere in Witney would be “a bit pointless”.
West Oxfordshire Conservative Association chairman Richard Langridge said: “We are always very happy to take any petitions, letters or cards from any organisation, but our staff do not generally wish to be photographed (by photographers covering events).
“That was communicated to the organisation at least a week beforehand. They were fully aware that no one would be answering the door.”
The constituency office has been the target of frequent demonstrations since Mr Cameron became PM in 2010.
Activists demanding equal rights for parents, New Fathers 4 Justice, have been frequent visitors, scaling the office roof in August 2010 and July 2011.
In April 2011, youngsters visited the office to call for Mr Cameron to step in and help stop Oxfordshire County Council cuts to youth centres.