SKIP-DIVERS and steel shutters, is this all Burnley town centre has to offer? If that is the case, it is no surprise shoppers are using the Internet or going out of town to do their shopping.
These were also the sights that awaited the visiting Millwall fans as they strolled around the town centre before the match on Saturday. Apart from the joy of winning 3-1 at Turf Moor, what sort of impression of Burnley will they take back with them?
At one time, not so many years ago, Burnley had a thriving Market Hall and an open market where all the stores were busy. Saturday afternoons were particularly bustling and alive with people of all ages. Some would stop and gossip for a few minutes; others just intent on getting their weekly shop and back home again to make tea; others to go on the football match.
I have lived in this town all my life and can see the slow decline of the town square. It looks dirty and unkempt, with more pigeons than shoppers.
As one shop closes it seems the only businesses that are able, or willing, to take its place are either another pound-shop or pawnbrokers. TJ Hughes has gone, Bon Marche will soon close and the card shop was throwing all its old stock into the skip as they too were closing.
The government decries the fact many town centres have boarded-up shops and have employed Mary Portas to investigate the demise of some town centres. But without financial help, I am at a loss to understand how town councils can reduce the cost of renting shops and market stalls or hope to attract investment to the town.
Because there are so few shops now in the town centre people are forced to go to out of town retail parks to do their shopping. And this forms part of the vicious circle; without investment, shops in Burnley town centre will continue to close forcing more people to shop either on the Internet or out of town.