CENTRE: Turning into graveyard

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After a brief apparent improvement, Whitley Bay town centre is again littered with vacant shop units, and many still open are struggling to survive.

It is a clear sign of how bad the situation is when even charity shops are closing their doors in numbers, despite all the benefits of business rate and VAT relief, donated stock and volunteer staffing they enjoy.

I fear that several of the few remaining multiple retailers will close their doors permanently when current leases expire

Whitley Bay seems no longer on anyone’s requirement list for retail representation.

Council planning policy has ignored the problem that has been developing now for decades, which has allowed significant retail sprawl and over-capacity to continue far too long.

The recent granting of planning consent by the council for a dead frontage police office, closed Saturdays, in what should be regarded as a prime retail position is an example.

Unless urgent and positive action is taken, the town may very soon become a shuttered retail graveyard. It is already well on the way to that.

Solutions to the problem are available if the council cares to look for them.

Kieran Conneely

Whitley Bay