Store closure leads to call for reduced rates
The closure of jewellery shop H Samuel in Berwick town centre has prompted fresh calls for more realistic rate levels to be set.
There are now a host of empty shop units littering Marygate, including those previously occupied by the likes of Clinton Cards, Birthdays, Calendar Club and Julian Graves.
In addition, several local traders have fallen by the wayside in recent times.
Coun Ivor Dixon told Berwick Town Council: “We’ve lost Samuels and the way we are going there are hardly going to be any shops left. It desperately needs an injection of life.”
Plans are currently being drawn up to reintroduce an element of short-stay parking on Marygate but councillors admitted it would not solve the town centre’s problems.
Coun Brian Douglas said: “We know car parking is not the only solution but at least it makes it easier for the general public to come into town and do a bit of shopping or help the night-time economy.
“In the meantime we still have the highest rates in Northumberland and nothing ever seems to get done about it.”
The council’s environment and regeneration committee agreed to invite Action for Market Towns to a meeting with a view to it carrying out a benchmarking exercise.
This would help Berwick identify its strengths and weaknesses, collect evidence and provide data to help unlock funding.
Mayor John Robertson added: “We have a town centre that is dying. We have a number of empty units on the high street and we have a clamour for short term parking as a solution to our woes but I think we need better signposting.
“If we can point to a survey that proves there is declining footfall there is a better chance of getting investment.”
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 7 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South west