LETTER OF THE WEEK: Loss of M&S could signal the last rites for the town

M&S, Kettering.
M&S, Kettering.

Regarding the Telegraph’s campaign to save Kettering’s High Street.

I would have thought that sending for a priest to administer the last rites would be more appropriate in the circumstances.

First, there was the demise of Woolworths and TJ Hughes within a couple of years of each other, followed by WH Smith, Top Shop and now Marks & Spencer’s decision to quit the retail landscape of Kettering altogether.

But Kettering is not the only town centre in the UK that is rapidly filling up with empty shops.

All across the land there have been massive increases in business rates.

As business rates are collected by local authorities, one has to ask if Kettering Council’s rates are competitive with all the other towns in Northamptonshire?

As we have some of the highest car parking charges in the county, I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions?

Then there is also the question of just how much businesses are being charged by the landlords in Kettering to trade from their premisses.

I spoke to an employee of Poundstretcher when I saw the closing down sign pasted on the shop window a few weeks ago.

Increases in rent was the main reason cited for the shop deciding to leave Kettering; a decision which has since been put on hold, judging by the removal of the sign.

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, aka the internet, I bet he didn’t give a moment’s thought to the devastating effect that it would come to have on the UK’s High Streets.

Shopping is firstly all about price, and secondly about convenience.

When you can get most items on the internet cheaper than the high street, and then have them delivered to you door, free of charge depending on the size of your purchase, why would you go to your local high street?

With internet purchases in the UK now accounting for 19 per cent of all sales, which is almost a threefold increase since 2010 and growing, if rents and business rates aren’t drastically reduced, or another form of Government stimulus provided, the life support that our High Street has been on for the last decade will be switched of.

Then it will be time to send for the priest mentioned earlier!

Ivan Humphrey

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