Click on the article from Lynn Thompson’s FOCUS newsletter above to enlarge it
I was interested to read about the campaign launched by Lynne Thompson in Southport to try to get Sefton Council to take decisive action to bring about real change to some very run down shops in Ainsdale’s Sandbook Way. Having seen the properties on many occasions I can only conclude that in my opinion they are very much a blight on the surrounding community. But whilst wishing Lynn, Cllr. Haydn Preece and indeed John Pugh MP very success in their campaign it does not take you long to realise that similar problems exist in communities across the UK.
The fundamental change in retail brought about by out of town shopping malls and of course internet shopping are probably the two most obvious signs that we can all see. Indeed, we all to some extent help drive forward that agenda by our own actions whilst we also moan about the loss of local shops. In Sandbrook Way a former snooker club is involved too, which makes you wonder about what was once a popular participation sport only a few years ago. Again things are changing and my own local snooker hall in Maghull has also gone and yes as an occasional snooker player I miss it.
But what about sorting these run-down premises out? Local authorities need to be more decisive (and be given more powers to help them be more decisive if required) because sitting back doing nothing much simply allows abandoned retail units to blight communities everywhere.
Ironically, Sefton has a problem in that its Council wants to concrete over vast areas of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt to build new houses yet clearly there are pockets of abandoned former retail properties whose land could help provide space for new housing. It has been Sefton Council’s lack of imagination in trying to address alternatives to building on the land that grows our food that has made me so angry as it’s Local Plan process has been taken forward.
Compulsory purchase powers should be used where a property has been left unused/abandoned for a specified period so that land owners are forced to face up to things.
So good luck to Lynn and her fellow campaigners but let’s have a sensible national debate about how Councils can be more proactive in forcing resolutions in circumstances such as these.