Concerned traders are calling for councillors to work with them on a rescue plan to save Spalding town centre.
Businesses spoke out last week at their frustration and anger at the way South Holland District Council has behaved towards Springfields.
Members of the Spalding Town Retailers’ Association (STRA) feel the council is waving the white flag to the Camelgate shopping centre over its expansion plans and that it has let the town centre down by not enforcing a crucial planning rule that was supposed to stop Springfields taking trade away from the heart of Spalding.
Last week Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, chairman of the council’s planning committee, told The Voice that traders must take the initiative to draw in more shoppers. STRA says that the two parties must work together for the good of the town.
STRA chairman Darren Sutton said: “Like the council we, as retailers, don’t have a bottomless pit of money, we can’t build new shops and put on events without the council’s support.
“This last week we have seen three retailers announce that they are closing down, bringing more empty shops to the town.
“We need councillors to come out publicly in support of the town and tell us what they are going to do to help us.
“Trade is difficult at the moment, it’s not just Springfields but also the challenge of internet shopping too. If we don’t start attracting people to visit and shop here then we feel more businesses will close.”
STRA wants to establish a steering group of traders, councillors and other interested parties with a clear mandate to quickly create a deliverable action plan to increase footfall in the town centre.
Mr Sutton added: “SHDC says it is committed to ensuring that our town centre remains the primary retail destination for Spalding. Action, not words, is what is required.”
He added: “Allowing Springfields to have unrestricted expansion will not deliver people into our town centre. It will further draw people away from our existing businesses and will risk sending our town centre into a downward spiral.”
The group includes The Crescent Traders’ Association and South Holland Market Traders’ Federation, whose chairman, David Burgess, said: “Our market should represent a huge opportunity for growth as it helps bring footfall into the town.
“Markets attract local people and allowing the market to expand, encouraging diversity and growth, investing in the stalls and infrastructure, learning from growing and successful markets would all provide a boost and bring more people into the town.”