Railwayman’s haunting pictures document slow “death” of his home town high street

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A SCOT has documented the slow “death” of his local high street in a haunting series of pictures.

James Cassidy photographed over 40 deserted shops in the main streets of Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, and posted the images online.

The 48-year-old railway signalman’s images show that even the Pound Stretcher couldn’t make a go of it in the once-bustling town, where Gregory’s Girl actress Dee Hepburn was born.

The images have emerged as figures show that Scotland is losing three shops a week and closures are ‘set to double’.

James wrote: “’Airdrie’s No Dun Yet’ is the old town motto. No yet, perhaps, but it’s guy close!

“I had a wee wander round the other week and photographed every closed down shop I could see. It took longer than you might think.”

James suggested: “The first thing that we need to do to reverse the damage already done is to scrap the monstrosity that is North Lanarkshire Council and bring back a smaller, more community centred Airdrie District Council. Super councils just don’t work.”

Maureen Hamill responded: “I didn’t realise that there were so many shops closed. I’ts very sad and makes Airdrie look like a barren waste ground that’s not clean either.

Jacqueline Teasdale wrote: “It’s a derelict little town that once thrived with lovely shops and people. What a shame.”

Scott Shannon wrote: “Sad to see this, Airdrie is just a ghost town.”

Nancy Magill added: “So sad about the boarded shops but we are all a little to blame. We shop at a center or worse online.”

Today the Scottish Retail Consortium said the rate of shop closures could double over three years and will particularly affect poorer areas.

Statistics collated by the Local Data Company, who specialise in retail analytics, show that more than 9,100 retail units have gone out of business in the last three years.

Over the same period 8,628 shops opened, meaning there was a loss of 476 outlets across Scotland.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, from the Scottish Retail Consortium said that shop numbers had fallen by 7.5% in Scotland since the 2008 financial crisis and that the trend wasn’t likely to stop.

He said: “We’ve projected that the closure rate will likely double over the next few years as the forces impacting on retail continue to change the industry.

“What is particularly concerning is these closures have, and are likely to continue, to occur in an asymmetric manner which will see some less affluent or less popular areas be affected disproportionately.

“That will lead to some town centres having a very limited retail offering and the reality is once shops have closed there is a risk of a vicious cycle of fewer attractions lowering footfall and making the situation worse.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “Later this week we will be making a major announcement involving tens of millions of pounds worth of investment in our town centres, including Airdrie.

“Our plans, which are the most ambitious in the country, reflect the rapidly changing nature of retail and consumer trends and will provide a sustainable future for the town centre involving new housing, leisure and community spaces.”

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