100 signatures reached
To: Peter Aldous MP
Stop Killing Our Town Centre
Raise the question in parliament that high business rates, car parking charges, and leasing practices by property companies are killing Lowestoft's town centre. Contact the District and County Councils, and the owners of the site on which the Tesco store in London Road North currently stands, and present our petition.
Why is this important?
Lowestoft is losing shops in its town centre almost weekly. The latest announcement that Tesco is to close its store in London Road North is the last straw.
Although the Tesco store closure may be part of a national strategic re-think by Tesco, we know that town centres and high streets up and down the country are having to deal with competition from out-of-town retail parks and online retailers. We also know that footfall in Lowestoft town centre is discouraged by high business rates and the cost of town centre parking. These issues are compounded by cynical leasing practices: as leases come up for renewal, property owners frequently raise the rents making the businesses unsustainable. Property owners are often living in other towns or countries and have no interest or stake in local communities: basically, they are speculators. On top of all this, seaside towns and former fishing ports like Lowestoft are struggling to replace lost industry and livelihoods.
People who don't drive are finding it harder and harder to shop. People with disabilities, older people and families are particularly affected by shop closures, especially those on low incomes. Not everyone has access to the Internet, and many of those who do still prefer to shop in store, for the social interaction and company that it gives them. Loneliness is recognised as a significant social problem for many people: especially the elderly and those with mental health issues. Access to local shops helps to combat the isolation of vulnerable people.
Lowestoft Town Council, East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council have all backed 'Climate Emergency' motions. This means in part encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport rather than drive. Retail parks are aimed at car drivers and they do little to build and support a sense of community. Lowestoft now has several retail parks.
Town centres are a community link. A vibrant town centre is necessary for the economic regeneration of this town. But it is more than that: it should act as a hub for our community, something that we can build out from, and build a future on.
How it will be delivered
Deliver in person and stage a press conference