Campaigners clash on Rasen’s high street future

John Saxon surveys the increasing number of closed shops in Market Rasen's Queen Street EMN-150324-101742001
John Saxon surveys the increasing number of closed shops in Market Rasen's Queen Street EMN-150324-101742001

Party campaigners have produced a raft of potential solutions to help safeguard Market Rasen’s future.

UKIP PPC John Saxon visited traders on Friday, saying he was confident its high street would survive but help is needed.

The former Glentham resident, who once ran a successful enterprise agency in Barnsley, said something similar was needed here. Mentoring of businesses would also help, especially if it meant successful businesspeople could “give something back.”

Market Rasen also needed “a better deal” from West Lindsey, something helped by UKIP having no whip on its district councillors, letting them serve local voters better.

UKIP’s Market Rasen candidate for district council, Howard Thompson, said if elected he would set up a business club and have a special symposium to get the local councils, landlords, property experts, retailers and others to come together and try and develop solutions.

Liberal Democrat party campaigner Guy Grainger also wanted a public meeting to see what could be learned from the past five years. It would look at what shoppers and traders wanted and how future arrangements might be run.

“A single meeting may not get too far in sorting out all the issues - but it may provide a start point which will allow everyone to work together while recognising that there may be quite different view points,” he said.

“I do not think that this should be allowed to fester for six months - there is a problem and it needs sorting out. It is going to be down to the whole community (perhaps through representatives) to move things forward - and it is going to take stamina and determination,” he said.

Market Rasen’s Sir Edward Leigh sees the opening and closing of shops as part of the “ebb and flow” of business, noting as the West Wold Deli closed, it was soon replaced by Undies and Overs clothing store.

“The nature of the free market is that not all businesses succeed, yet there are 760,000 more private sector businesses overall today compared to the end of the last Labour government,” he said.

The Conservatives had doubled small business relief, cut corporation tax from 28% to 20% and abolished National Insurance contributions for under 21s to encourage employers to take on the young. But he called on West Lindsey District Council and Rasen businesses to work together “more closely.”

Market Rasen’s Labour PPC David Prescott said his party has pledged to cut and freeze business rates and would set up a Business Investment Bank to help small firms get capital.

“Market Rasen and its new Town Partnership needs to develop a long-term 20-year vision to develop Rasen with five-yearly business plans.

“That could mean turning the town into a community hub, to offer spaces for education, arts, entertainment, business and office space, health and leisure. We need more footfall and give people a reason to stay other than shopping,” he said.

He also called for rates relief on empty premises.