Oh dear, another of our major shops is facing closure. The news that BHS on West Gate is to shut its doors and cease trading is more bad news for Mansfield’s main retail area.
A few years ago no one would have thought we would have to make do without flagship stores such as Woolworths, Littlewoods and now BHS.
Our town is struggling to maintain its role as a major shopping centre. I am not sure the district and county councils can escape some of the blame for this sorry state of affairs.
The first downturn in shopper numbers came when people in authority decided to move the district council offices out to Chesterfield Road and the county base to Littleworth, a name some think is very appropriate, which meant that both council staff and its customers were pulled away from our central area.
Then of course the decision to allow large-scale retail developments at both Portland and Nottingham Road gave further reasons for shoppers to avoid the town centre.
Coupled with this has been the building of the designer outlet at Pinxton and, of course, Meadowhall, where many Mansfield people shop on a regular basis.
I am often surprised by some of the planning decisions made on our behalf by the district council. Moving the council offices to Chesterfield Road in the first place was difficult to fathom but to choose a site there that was more suitable for the much needed leisure centre was breath taking, and then to bulldoze the leisure centre rather than the council offices to allow Tesco to ALSO move out of the town centre was, in my humble opinion, unforgiveable.
Where do we go from here? Please don’t say “Nottingham” or “Chesterfield”.
The first step must surely be to bring back the council offices to a town centre site to re-populate our main shopping streets, followed by the building of market hall open every day to allow Mansfield people to hunt for bargains which is something we have always been good at.
I don’t want to sound defeatist but it may be too late to stem the flow of customers who are now looking elsewhere to spend their hard-earned money. The advent of internet shopping is the elephant in the room isn’t it?