A Southport town centre councillor is calling upon the Council to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ following the announcement that Beales Department stores are going into liquidation. The bad news follows the closure of BHS and Debenhams branches in the town
Councillor Tony Dawson believes that the Council needs to start acting now to preserve a vibrant retail and leisure core for the centre of Southport which may have to be considerably smaller than that which has lasted for the last 100 years or so.
He is calling on all councillors representing the town, to come together urgently, in a process open to the residents of the town as well as the business community, to face up to the reality of the situation and to work to help Southport retain its status as a popular destination.
And Councillor Dawson believes that Sefton Council must have a key role in co-ordinating the formulation and enactment of an urgent action plan for Lord Street and the surrounding area.
“The evidence of the past century has shown,” says Councillor Dawson, ” in places all over the country, that the re-generation of areas hit by a sea-change in the economy does not come magically. Nor does it come about if the areas concerned are simply left to the vagaries of the market. ”
“Unless there is active management geared towards a clear agreed plan, there will likely be decades of ‘drift’ with fragmented shops separated by empty properties.”
“Any plan must deal with reality, not how people would just like things to be.” says Councillor Dawson “Internet shopping and out-of-town centres are not going to just away.”
“We are at, if not beyond a ‘tipping point’ with regard to retail in central Southport. But there is no point in just throwing hands up in the air or sitting back an moaning. The people of the town and their elected representatives and organisations all need to work positively and together. If Southport is to survive as a place that our grandchildren will wish to visit, or even live, we need to all start working together positively.”