‘We can’t bury heads in the sand over closures’

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EDITOR - Towns across the UK might all be suffering from the growing number of companies going out of business and closing branches left, right and centre whilst at the same time haemorrhaging jobs - but nowhere have I seen it more apparent than in Skegness.

Until Woolworths closed its prominent store on Lumley Road the situation didn’t seem so bleak, but since then things have gradually gotten worse and it’s right that people should blame the council for not being alert to what might happen from an early date.

When large companies are doing well stores that under-perform will remain relatively safe but when things start to go pear-shaped a need to cut back will mean that those making the decisions will not waste a minute in ruthlessly bringing down the axe on the weak parts of their business.

Unfortunately for Skegness when there’s any decisions about store closures most would agree it would be a miracle if the town is not on the dreaded list.

There’s nothing anyone can do about the size of the town and its catchment area for shopping but the council can make sure that necessary action is taken before the decision is going to be made in order to avoid desperately scrambling to large businesses in the vain hope of saving a store.

In the summer there is a large influx into the town’s economy but any advantages retailers get from this is surely offset by the relative weakness in the remainder of the year, meaning serious attempts have got to be made to look at how the effects of this divergence can be reduced - including investing in outside help and guidance if needed.

One of the questions needed to be asked is whether too much of a high price is charged on the back of the lucrative possibilities of the summer and not enough consideration is given to the struggles of the winter. This may be to the degree where it has to be considered whether there should be any increased charge stemming from the holiday season at all in an attempt to revitalise Skegness’ retail economy.

Tesco’s plans to increase the size of their store on Richmond Drive is good news in that a company wants to invest in the town, but yet again raises concerns over what effect it might have on other businesses.

I feel as though the financial contribution towards the fortune of the town that is supposed to come with it would have been better replaced by expert guidance towards how their plans fit in with the future of the town.

It might be the size of the catchment area, high rates or maybe such ‘trivial’ issues as parking provision but we have to be very aware of the fact that there is nothing that is going to stop Skegness’s retail sector dying a slow death if we continue to be oblivious to undoubted problems.

JAMES VICKERS

via email