I’ve been very concerned lately about the problems facing retailers and the impact this is having on town centres. On Lord Street in Fleetwood there are currently 20 empty units. I and my team have been meeting with town councillors, shop owners and officers from Wyre Borough Council to look at ways in which we can halt the decline, help businesses to survive and attract new businesses to our town.
A survey released by Nottingham Building Society has found that 46% of shop owners blame the loss of a local bank branch in the last three years for negatively impacting their business, while 24% said it contributed to them going out of business within the last five years.
Small business owners are suffering as a result of lower footfall, with around 36% of consumers saying they would make fewer visits to their town or village once their local bank branch closed.
According to a new independent review the crisis on UK high streets could leave 100,000 shops empty within a decade. The Grimsey Review 2 (written by Bill Grimsey, the former Wickes and Iceland Chief Executive) makes a series of recommendations including an overhaul of the business rates system and a ban on out-of-town developments. It predicts nearly 70,000 high street jobs will disappear this year.
The report estimates that 28,000 retail jobs have disappeared in 2018 and a further 40,000 are predicted to go by the end of the year. But it says it is possible to turn things around and cites Stockton-on-Tees as a regeneration success story after stakeholders worked together to reinvigorate the north-east town.
Town centres should be reinvigorated by focusing on alternatives to retail including housing, leisure, entertainment, education, arts and commercial office space.
I’d be very interested to hear what you think about Fleetwood town centre and other shopping areas like Knott End. Do you shop on your high street, and if not why not? What improvements would you like to see and what would encourage you to shop local? Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at my constituency office at 50, Lord Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6DT.