Next pulls plug on Shrewsbury town centre and have decided not to renew their lease on their store in the Pride Hill shopping centre.
As the owners of the shopping centre Shropshire Council has once again been exposed to the contraction of the retail sector. This has been happening for a sustained period now as retailers move to reduce costs by reducing their floor space footprint. An Essential step as they move to head off lower footfall, rising rents, rates and prices, lower pound, Brexit uncertainty and rapid expansion of online retailers.
Their decision to risk public money to the tune of £51 million was mad. Factor in that they invested the money with getting a proper valuation first and that rises to reckless. After a year their investment had fallen in value by 20% or £11 million. How much further will that fall? Quite a lot further in my view. Filling vacant units will pop up shops won’t stem the tide of retailers moving out or demanding a massive reduction in their rents.
The Conservative administration at Shirehall are now stuck with a toxic asset to will cost them and us as taxpayers a lot of money. I am sure many businesses in Shropshire would have welcomed a share of that money to invest and support their growth… probably for a much better rate of return as well. Times are still tough for all businesses and ordinary taxpayers. Theses aren’t the times to take extravagant risks. People should rightly demand better investment of their money than the Conservatives have shown.