Following the announcement of Beales entering administration, Southport BID have taken the initiative and written to Jake Berry, Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth at the Cabinet Office about the action being taken to minimise the fall out for high streets such as ours.
The BID Chair, Susannah Porter and new CEO Rachel Fitzgerald have been working closely with Sefton MBC this week to work on a possible recovery programme for the Beales owners and to support the staff and management working in the Lord Street store, many of whom have worked there for many years, this is a very sad time for them. They have also met with Southport MP Damien Moore to discuss actions going forward, Damien has spoken to Andrea Leadsom, asking her to meet with Beales administrators about recovery solutions. Susannah has also been speaking on major regional news programmes and on BBC’s national breakfast programmes to bring Southport into the National spotlight and to try and stimulate more help and support for the town.
The BID is working hard to lobby for the changes needed to National policy around high streets and business rates, and pushing for the support the town needs. The BID is part of the Town Board created by Sefton MBC to draw up our bid for up to £25 million of the government’s Town Fund for Southport to ensure we receive as much investment as possible and turn the tide for Southport. A large part of the Town Fund prospectus speaks about consultation with both the business and the local community and along with Sefton MBC we have plans to do that this Spring, please look out for announcements about how you can get involved.
Like the vast majority of small and medium towns in the UK the profile of high streets has changed; the closure of our major department stores is not a problem unique to Southport, as major national businesses report declining sales and face collapse.
Susannah, BID Chair says of the issue; “We can all see that there are too many vacant units in Southport especially on our beautiful, tree lined boulevard that is Lord Street. The loss of three major stores is undeniably a huge blow however overall we have seen a net gain in new businesses over the last couple of years, the vast majority of these are high quality independents. We have to continue this trend working alongside Sefton MBC to further reduce vacancies and also look at other uses for our high street to keep it vibrant and alive. Retail and leisure are the major employers in our town, it is crucial that we all work together to buck the national trend as some of our neighbours have managed to do. Can I personally appeal to all the residents of Southport who love the town as much as I do to make a promise to visit the shops once a week and spend £5, it will make a huge difference.”