SNP CLAIM COUNCIL ‘CAUGHT SLEEPING’ DURING GRANGEMOUTH TOWN CENTRE CRISIS
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 11:43
SNP MP HOPEFUL MARTYN DAY SLAMS FALKIRK COUNCIL INACTION AS GRANGEMOUTH TOWN CENTRE HITS CRISIS POINT
In response to claims in last week’s Falkirk Herald (Thursday April 9th) that Grangemouth Town Centre is “down but far from out” Martyn Day, SNP Candidate for Linlithgow & East Falkirk, has today slammed Falkirk Council for failing to ensure a replacement store was lined up swiftly to take over the Talbot Street premises recently vacated by Tesco Metro.
Despite Falkirk Council being aware as far back as 2011 that Tesco were unlikely to renew their lease in Grangemouth, little or no action was taken by the Labour/Tory administration at Falkirk Council to find a replacement.
The town centre has now been faced with a further problem following the news that WH Smith will be closing its Grangemouth doors in September.
Martyn Day joined Grangemouth SNP Councillor David Balfour and Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald on Friday to discuss the crisis-hit Grangemouth Town Centre.
Speaking outside the former Tesco and Mathiesons stores today Martyn Day said:
“It is clear that Grangemouth Town Centre is now at crisis point, with action needed sooner rather than later to increase footfall into the town. Falkirk Council has taken the eye off the ball, and been caught sleeping while footfall in Grangemouth declines.
“For politicians from the ruling Labour/Tory administration and council officials to continue to deny there is a crisis is astonishing.”
“We can all do our bit by shopping local and continuing to support the shops in the centre, however the traders deserve and rightly expect more support from both Falkirk Council and Falkirk Towns Ltd (Town Centre Management).
“Falkirk Council has been aware for a number of years that Tesco were unlikely to renew their lease, therefore they should have been seeking an alternative ‘anchor’ store for the premises as a matter of urgency.
“I am aware that there is further transfer of ownership of the town centre properties between developers, however the current game of chess cannot continue, and plans must be put in place now which will secure the long-term future of the town centre.
“The further town centre regeneration strategy is yet more expenditure by the Council on yet more consultants. The traders and the public who use the town centre want swift action, not endless reports.”
Grangemouth’s SNP Councillor David Balfour, who ran a petition highlighting local concerns regarding the decline in business and footfall in Grangemouth which gained 1251 signatures, last week contacted Falkirk Council’s Chief Executive Mary Pitcaithly calling on her to take action to help the town centre’s traders as “a matter of urgency”.
Reminding the Chief Executive of the 1251 name petition Councillor Balfour said:
“I wrote to you some time ago and handed in a petition with the names and addresses of some 1251 people concerned with the decline in businesses and footfall in Grangemouth Town Centre.
“Recently we have lost several more businesses including Tesco, Mathieson's, Paul’s the Butcher and if rumours are correct we will also be losing W H Smith in September.
“It is extremely concerning that people are having to endure personal hardship through the loss of their jobs and livelihoods, some who have worked many years in the town. Every job counts whether it is two from PartyDaze, six from W H Smith or 68 from Tesco.
“I have previously asked for action to be taken, including a reduction in rents and where possible other costs and the implementation of other initiatives to help the remaining struggling business owners and also to encourage new business into the area. Unfortunately, very little or nothing has been done since then to help our Town Centre traders.
“A number of surviving traders have contacted me to say they are extremely concerned about the further loss of footfall and are wondering what other businesses will be lost, including their own, in the near future.
“Our Town Centre is at breaking point and requires urgent attention. It is up to all of us to support our town centres and ‘shop local’.”
The calls from Martyn Day and Councillor David Balfour for urgent action were backed by Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.
“We are now at crisis point in Grangemouth Town Centre. Whilst we all need to continue supporting the existing traders in the town centre more work needs to be done to promote the town and attract new tenants.
“Clearly the situation hasn’t been helped by previous property companies with interests in Grangemouth Town Centre going into Administration, which has made progress difficult, however new owners of the property portfolio must now concentrate their efforts on ensuring the Town Centre has a future.”
“I am aware that Falkirk Council has independently commissioned a ‘Falkirk Town Centres Regeneration Strategy Review’ regarding future opportunities for Falkirk district’s towns including Grangemouth, reflecting the current retail and commercial climate, however this doesn’t seem to have materialised yet. We can’t afford to wait!
“While the strategy review is welcome, we need action, and we need action now, to ensure the revival of the town centre and a return to a healthy footfall.”
“In the meantime, it’s the old story – use it or lose it – support your local town centre!”