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Penzance: 'The high street as we know it is dead,' says Labour business advisor

By CMJacqui  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

Penzance Chamber chair Dick Cliffe in the high street

Comments (10)

"The high street as we know it is dead," said a Labour Party business advisor tonight in a programme focusing on Penzance town centre.

BBC Inside Out sent Labour Party advisor Bill Grimsey to west Cornwall to evaluate the struggle faced by town centres.

The former chief executive of Wickes and Iceland said the town was typical of struggling high streets across the country as he highlighted how one in seven shops in Penzance is empty.

"I say the high street as we know it is dead," he said. "The hustle and bustle of 40 years ago has gone and it's not coming back."

He highlighted how the former Wooworths was now a pound shop, and said the town was full of empty retail units, charity shops and money exchanges.

Even Causewayhead, which is often praised for its high occupancy rates and proliferation of independents, was singled out for the empties and charity shops "creeping in".

Sasha Williams, of The Granary, said she blamed increasing rates and energy bills, but admitted her shop was given a rate relief.

Rebecca Welsh, of Simpsons, said out of town retailers were responsible for the decline of the high street.

Grimsey said he believed towns like Penzance needed a plan to diversify. "We need more housing, offices and community facilities in our high streets," he said.

Architect Keith Bell, Penzance Chamber of Commerce chair Dick Cliffe and Afred Smith owner Marcus Wilkinson were described as the "movers and shakers" of Penzance, with a plan for the town.

"I wish them all the luck in the world because they are going to need it," Grimsey added.

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  • Frank_Scully  |  February 20 2014, 8:44AM

    PZ has never been good at attracting big national anchors. One reason is the low local wages and high unemployment. The root cause of those two problems is the dependence on the seasonal tourist "industry". It should be obvious why people don't have money to spend. Edge of town retail is a red herring. Start marketing Cornwall as a place to do business.

  • mariamac  |  February 05 2014, 11:33AM

    Yes he painted a pretty sorry picture but he forgot to mention the positive community we have here. Penzance's Market Jew Street, like most other high streets is in a state of change and looking pretty sorry for itself at the moment, but that will change and it will still be the heart of the town. It is up to the people to make those changes and to take an interest in the future of the town. There are plenty of ideas around for taking the opportunities that arise from these changes so don't lose heart, let's all work together to create the future by making things happen now and supporting those initiatives with our presence. Even if you prefer to do your weekly shopping in the out of town supermarkets you can still take a stroll around the town and enjoy the unique shops, cafes and the local spirit. Don't believe the hype, Penzance is not dead, just struggling a bit with the changing times. We will bounce back.

    |   1
  • AnBalores  |  February 04 2014, 9:10PM

    Never realised there was a Truro in England as well as one in Cornwall. Wonder if that is a bland, uninteresting place up there as well?

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  • sa1234  |  February 04 2014, 2:20PM

    negativity, general moaning and a blame culture aren't going to help. this attitude of looking down on others and assigning that judgement to an entire town is negative and unhelpful. I think one of the major things to remember is a town is a gathering of people and it's town centre is made up of things that the people of the town like and enjoy. There are a lot of people that love Penzance. there's a lovely art scene, a great film club and a lovely theatre. culture is the way to develop a town centre. of course it's not dead.

    |   -1
  • Truro_England  |  February 04 2014, 1:19PM

    @Cornishdude your 100% right! Some people dont like to hear the truth, there are many run down towns in Cornwall/ the whole UK which have various factors causing these problems. I get shot down when I call Camborne/ Dead-ruth/ Bodmin run down towns but, they are! I'm sure I come across as a townie living in Truro, I was born in Truro and very rarely visit other towns and certainly don't shop else where, sorry thats my freedom of choice and opinions.

    |   1
  • Doitdreckley  |  February 04 2014, 10:12AM

    The rot started in the 80s, under the Tories, when Penwith District Coucnil started giving permission for out of town stores in Longrock. There is also the suspicion, perhaps an urban myth I dont know, that beggars and down and outs are relocated from other parts of the country to Penzance. Grimsey is right that there needs to be sa greater a mix of activity in our towns but someone should tell his Labour pals in the area to deter them from building all over green fields.

    |   2
  • Cornishdude  |  February 04 2014, 5:50AM

    You do not some hot pot business advisor to tell us Penzance Is a dead Town, anyone that has actually walked through the Town can tell you that, Penzance is a dirty town, by day the streets have beggars sitting at cash point machines pretending to play an instrument, drug dealers doing their business outside many of the shops, shoplifting is rife to feed the habits of the druggies. Dog Faeces all over the pavements, dirty uncared for shop fronts, no decent shops. No Police activity during the day. By night the town is a no go area due to the drunken idiots fighting in the streets. PENZANCE TOWN IS DEAD & BURIED. RIP !!!!!

    |   9
  • josdave  |  February 03 2014, 10:58PM

    As long as councils give away planning to any supermarket that asks for it and puts up parking charges to deter people from using town centres this will get worse. A condition of planning permission for a supermarket should be to pay the estimated revenue from car parks and allow free parking in town centres. This will go a little way to levelling the playing field.

    |   -5
  • robzrob  |  February 03 2014, 10:56PM

    'He highlighted how the former Wooworths was now a pound shop'. Ignoramus, so was Woolworths when it started! (It was actually a 3d & 6d shop, the £ shop of its day & it might still be, if governments hadn't inflated the currency.)

    |   4
  • Lafrowda  |  February 03 2014, 8:40PM

    Shame he didn't notice what was happening in the 13 years of Labour Government.

    |   7



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