‘Empty buildings hitting our trade’

A number of shops on Spen Corner, Marton Drive have either moved elsewhere or gone out of business.

A number of shops on Spen Corner, Marton Drive have either moved elsewhere or gone out of business.

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TRADERS in an area blighted by boarded up shops claim the emptying buildings are affecting their businesses.

Spen Corner, which is formed by the junctions of Marton Drive, Hawes Side Lane and Waterloo Road, has seen a number of shops shut down or moved elsewhere recently.

Topps Tiles, on Marton Drive, re-located to Vicarage Lane Industrial Estate, Discount Domestic Heating has moved to Henley Avenue and DMS Automotive has closed down.

The remaining traders say they are finding it hard to battle the recession but are determined to “ride it out”.

David Worthington, owner of Hair and Graces on Marton Drive, said: “I can’t understand why DMS Automotive has closed and what I don’t like seeing are empty buildings because it doesn’t look good.

“This is a sign of the times and what we have to do as businesses is start working against it.”

Mr Worthington has faced many challenges to his business during his 39 year tenure and is now relying on loyalty during his latest battle.

He said: “During the recession in the 1980s we got to a point where nearly every business had closed down apart from me, but we proved then we could ride it out.

“We have a lot of regular customers which have helped.

“None of us like what has happened and we all hope the buildings are filled quickly.

“Topps Tiles is a good building and has parking spaces which are what you need here because it’s so busy.”

James Ruddy runs The Dog Groomer on Marton Drive and says he has lost business from the reduced footfall.

He said: “I’ve noticed a difference since the other shops left.

“It hasn’t been too bad but it has had an effect because customers used to go into Topps Tiles and would come over here and ask about getting their dog groomed.

“We don’t have that boost anymore but luckily I’ve got a lot of regular customers.”

Rachael Gandhi, owner of the Corkscrew Off Licence on Hawes Side Lane, admits her business has struggled to compete with rival shops.

She added: “There’s a lot of competition around here but we are trying to keep our prices as cheap as possible and offer promotions.

“People are choosing to shop around a lot more now because they want to try to save money, so we have to change with them.

“It was alright when we first moved here five years ago but other newsagents nearby have opened and it’s hard to compete.”

Coun Norman Hardy, ward councillor for Hawes Side, said: “Anything which can be done to promote businesses is beneficial, but I’m not sure what the council can do.

“We can’t afford to buy new properties, but we are helping new businesses work on business plans and making sure it’s a growing effort.

“It’s a sign of the times and people are choosing to stop spending money in retail.”

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