Mohammad Yasin MP writes: I’m very sad to hear that Beales has gone into administration and for the staff across the 22 department stores whose jobs are at risk, unless a last-minute buyer can be found.
Under the rule of the Conservatives, high street closures across the country are at a historic high and it is heart-breaking to see our once thriving town falling into decline, through devastating cuts to local authority funding.
M&S, Top Shop and River Island have already either gone or will go soon from our high street, and the future of Debenhams remains uncertain.
Business rate reform, car parking charges and fairer online versus high street retail tax must be urgently explored, but we can’t ignore that shopping habits have changed, and so our town centres must also evolve.
The reality now it that town centres and high streets can no longer thrive as retail destinations alone and we need to look at alternatives, including community hub solutions.
And whilst the loss of these larger retailers is devastating, I’m proud that Bedford has such a great variety of local small independent retailers, many more so than other similarly sized towns.
I’ll be meeting with Bedford Borough leaders and working with Bedford Improvement District (BIDS) to support businesses and make sure we bring the buzz back to Bedford and Kempston.