Keep the Marks and Spencer store in Blackburn town centre
Blackburn is one of a declining number of town centres to still have a real sense of community. Its shopping centre is well resourced with a good number of popular, well stocked shops. With cafes, meeting places, easily accessible parking and its enviable market, large numbers of people pass through on a daily basis. It doesn’t take long to be struck by the sense of belonging people feel in local cafes and pubs. Being able to feel at home whilst out and about is a carefully curated ambience created by business owners over a long period of time and doesn’t happen overnight. It is also good to see the council working on the Blakey Moor project; hopefully this will attract further footfall through the town centre.
It is therefore very sad to read about Marks and Spencer’s plans to move out of the town centre. Many people are aware that as soon as one or two large stores move out of a town centre, this can lead to the closure of other businesses due to a decrease in footfall. Marks and Spencer is somewhere that people of an older generation might typically wish to head to on a trip to town. If they don’t want to pick up a special treat from the food store (after all, it’s too expensive for the average person on a pension to do their entire weekly shop at) or browse the clothing section, they might meet friends or family in the café. They, or the other people they meet, are likely to then head to other businesses in town and so the consumer patterns continue. Many of these customers may only use public transport to get around and Blackburn is well served by buses and trains. One can imagine elderly people still able to drive, not wishing to navigate complicated roundabouts and shopping centres out of town which can sometimes be daunting for even the most experienced of drivers!
As residents of Blackburn and its surrounding districts, the people who have signed this petition ask Marks and Spencer to think about the community it serves and to help keep this at a flourishing level by not moving their store out of the town centre. By remaining in the town centre, it also sends a clear message to other businesses that keeping a sense of community is vital to how a town flourishes. Don’t detract from the fabulous work our local business owners and staff achieve by moving to this major store to yet another characterless retail site out of town.
John Hosking Contact the author of the petition