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Ghost town threat as local services decline.

The decline in neighbourhood shops and services is sounding the death knell for Britain's local economies Ghost Town Britain releases new projections that show the perilous state of local economies across the country.

The report from independent think-tank the New Economics Foundation shows that between 1995 and 2000, the UK lost one fifth of some of its most vital institutions - corner shops, grocers, high street banks, post offices and pubs.

It amounted to a cumulative loss of over 30,000 local economic outlets.

A further 28,000 outlets will be lost by 2005 while if trends continue, the number of local outlets will have dropped by nearly a third between 1990 and 2010.

The result is that communities and neighbourhoods in core urban as well as rural areas will be without easy access to such essential elements of both the economy and the social fabric of the country.

The report called on the Government to tackle the reasons why many local areas were dying. They include:

market domination by and preferential policy treatment of supermarkets.

the 'downsizing' of banks and post offices.

transport systems that encourage car travel.

weak and flawed planning controls.

lack of support for truly local enterprise.

Policy director Andrew Simms said: 'Changes in the way we shop, bank and communicate are creating ghost towns in Britain. Things could get much worse if current trends lead to a negative tipping point. Vital local economies that provide the glue that holds communities together could be lost forever.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 16, 2002
Words:249
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