Published: 00:05, 21 July 2017
The owner of Sheppey’s only toy shop - which closed on Saturday - says Sheerness is dying.
Nathan Hill put the up shutters at his shop, Sheerness Discount Toy Store, in the Broadway on Saturday and then blamed a new out-of-town shopping centre for killing his trade.
He explained: “Neats Court killed us. As soon as the centre opened in Queenborough people started going there instead of Sheerness.
"The High Street is dying. I predict within two years there won’t be any independent shops there.”
He also blamed Swale council for failing to market the town or promote it properly.
He said: “The council is sitting on £100,000 meant to help Sheerness as part of the planning permission for Neats Court. It could have used that to pay for marketing.
"Or free parking to encourage shoppers. Or subsidise buses from Leysdown, Queenborough and Neats Court.
“Whatever it does now will be too little, too late. I had great plans for the Sheerness shop but we were fighting a losing battle. You know something is seriously wrong when even the Pound Shop shuts.”
Mr Hill, 37, opened the shop in June 2013 with his father David.
It was the second town business to close in a week. Store Twenty One shut the previous weekend.
Mr Hill added: “With any business it is the numbers games. We just didn’t have enough people coming into the town. Yet Neats Court is rammo.”
A Swale council spokesman said: “High Streets are facing the challenge of redefining themselves and Sheerness has masses of untapped potential, which we want to help unlock.
"But there are significant challenges in delivering the kinds of schemes that can provide real long-term benefits.
“We are working to develop plans for the town that take account of the challenging economic viability and which provide a platform to bid for future government and other grant funding which can help attract the investment needed.”
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