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High Street blues – Stopping the decline

Over the past few years, we have seen a sharp climb in High Street vacant shops. From Woolworths to BHS and now it seems House of Fraser’s future hangs in the balance, it’s easy to see that retail as an industry is struggling.

In most towns up and down the country, town centre partnerships have developed, local shops and shopping centres have banded together to create a support network to not only help drive traffic to their stores but also keep crime at bay.

Dawn Jeakins, Royals Shipping Centre Manager & Chair and Director of Southend BID explains: “Southend BID is working with various partners including Southend Borough Council and Essex Police, to increase the footfall to the town while keeping it a safe and clean place for shoppers. Unlike other town centre partnerships, we run events which create a buzz and a reason for shoppers to return. We also have our very own Street Ranger team which has an extensive knowledge of Southend’s town centre and seafront. Every day they assist with graffiti removal, first aid occurrences, shoplifting incidents and visitor queries. There are plans to build some retail shopping units away from the town centre over at Fossets Farm, which, if started will pull more and more shoppers away from the town.”

At the top of the High Street, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is proposing to regenerate the Queensway area which they want to create a new residential-led development made up of high-quality housing, better living environments and a place for people to live, socialise and play.

Southend Council is also inviting locals to join in on a conversation called Southend 2050. it’s about the future of the borough and how it affects the everyday lives of the people that live, work and visit here.

Councillor James Courtenay, deputy leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council said: “Southend, as with all boroughs, towns and cities across the UK, is facing new challenges, and we must continue to adapt to meet them with our partners and the local community. We need to ensure we are helping to create a borough that has a clear and simple vision and direction. One that meets the needs of all our residents, no matter where in the borough they live, work or spend their leisure time.”

It might seem that 2050 is a view too far in the future.

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