Village centre crisis talks

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard addresses a meeting of Bispham's business owners.
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard addresses a meeting of Bispham's business owners.
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TRADERS have held talks in a bid to tackle dwindling footfall at a Fylde coast shopping centre.

Businesses based in Bispham Village say the closure of three banks in the area has hit them hard.

The MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys convened a meeting of Bispham's local business owners and workers to try and solve the problem of loss of trade and confidence following the closure of all of the area's banks. Paul Maynard (right) with the owner of Seniors Fish and Chip shop Alastair Horabin, who hosted the meeting, and concerned locals

The MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys convened a meeting of Bispham's local business owners and workers to try and solve the problem of loss of trade and confidence following the closure of all of the area's banks. Paul Maynard (right) with the owner of Seniors Fish and Chip shop Alastair Horabin, who hosted the meeting, and concerned locals

There are now six empty units in total at the shopping centre, off All Hallows Road.

Now shop owners are set to form a trade association as the first step in the fight back.

They also welcomed moves by Blackpool Council to introduce a two-hour parking limit in the car park.

Jim McIlwrath, of Bargain Booze, said: “As an association we would be stronger and could tap into more resources for funding and use that to promote the precinct itself.”

Other ideas put forward at the meeting, organised by Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, are better sign-posting to direct people to the shops and bringing in a mobile bank.

Traders also want more to be done to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Liz Guest, who runs Doug’s Key Bar in the indoor market with her husband, said: “There are signposts to other shopping areas, such as Fleetwood Market, but there is nothing to tell people we are here.

“What about putting a sign on the roundabout on Devonshire Road?”

In recent years, Barclays, HSBC and Halifax have closed their branches in Bispham Village.

Marjorie Topping, of Debbie Does Hair, said: “The banks were a way of drawing people to the area and they would then use the other shops.

“If we had a mobile bank, maybe one day a week perhaps in the car park, people would know they could come down and use it and hopefully visit the other businesses too.”

Alistair Horabin, of Seniors Fish and Chip Shop, called for anti-social behaviour to be tackled because groups of youths were deterring potential customers.

He said: “I don’t think any mother or family group wants to walk through a group of 10 or 12 youths to get to any store.”

Community beat manager for Bispham Village Chris Poole, who also attended the meeting, said officers were taking measures to combat rowdiness.

Mr Maynard also pledged to help traders.

He said: “This is the first of what I hope will be a series of meetings across shopping areas in my constituency.

“The best shopping areas work when owners and vendors come together to swap ideas and have talks like this.”

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