Echo Reporter John Georghan writes in tonight’s Echo about the plight of Rayleigh High Street:
TWO electrical shops that have served Rayleigh since the 1970s are closing.
Edes Electrics will close its doors in Rayleigh High Street for the last time next week after 30 years in the town, while Parker Electrics will call time after 36 years at the end of the month.
Lyn Wiltshire, who looks after the Rayleigh branch of Edes, has warned traditional High Streets were facing ?oblivion?.
She said: ?We?ve been here for more than 30 years so we?ve hung on in there.
?But it gets to a point where it?s just not practical.
?We?ve thought about it a lot and we?re sad to be going, but there?s no business in Rayleigh. So many shops are closing down.
?The situation with the roadworks isn?t helping and it?s very difficult to park because you have to pay everywhere.?
There are also branches of Edes in Wickford, Billericay and Leigh, which Ms Wiltshire said were faring much better than the one in Rayleigh.
She said: ?In Leigh, you can find somewhere to park, and it?s absolutely busy on a Saturday afternoon, but in Rayleigh it?s dead.
?There?s nothing different here in terms of shops compared with Leigh.
?Rayleigh used to be so lovely, but now there are no independent shops or places to browse and nowhere to sit outside.
?I think little high streets like Rayleigh will disappear into oblivion.?
In recent months, town centre shops which have closed include Lassiters clothing shop, in Eastwood Road, Ego Menswear, and Victoria Shoes, which will reopen as a gift shop.
Ray Parker, who runs Parker Electrics, is retiring at the age of 63. He said: ?This year has been the hardest I?ve had since I?ve been in business.
?It?s a sign of the times. The road being dug up hasn?t helped.?
Carl Watson, chairman of Rayleigh Chamber of Trade, said he was sad to see both shops go.
He said: ?Lots of shops here are on the verge of closing. Town centres should be the hub of what goes on in communities.?
It would be nice to think that the council cabinet are working on a master plan to assist Rayleigh High Street. We must hope so.
But things can’t be helped by the relevant cabinet member, Keith Gordon from Rochford having 5 topics to look after. He is officially responsible for “Leisure, Tourism, Heritage, the Arts, Culture and Business”. Should tourism really be first on the list and business last?