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More closures rock Dumfries High Street

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By Rod Edgar
Dumfries and West
More closures rock Dumfries High Street

SORTING out Dumfries town centre must be the new council's top priority — as two further closures rock the High Street.

That is the view being expressed as the closure of an amusement arcade and planned departure of Superdrug threatens to leave an almost uninterrupted row of empty shop fronts next to The Midsteeple.
Urging action as votes are tallied in the local authority elections, chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association Rab Smith said: “We all have to put massive pressure on the new incoming councillors to actually do something — not to talk about it.
“They have to hit the ground running.”
Claiming elected members in the past have ‘not been strong enough’, Mr Smith said: “We need to make sure that the incoming councillors really do the job, get torn into and do things instead of having talking shops all the time.”
Mr Smith says footfall is the issue, describing packed trains which take people away to Carlisle or Newcastle at the weekend leaving the town centre empty, and again suggests re-opening the High Street to traffic.
Meanwhile, the closure of the arcade and likely exit of Superdrug from next to The Midsteeple could mean just one shop is occupied out of the six between the top of Bank Street and WH Smith.
That area is the focus of ongoing regeneration project The Midsteeple Quarter, and Matt Baker says it reinforces the case for action.
Mr Baker said: “What you’re seeing is the break-up of the global high street happening right in front of our eyes in our own town.”
Calling for a shift away from a retail domination, he added: “Those spaces that are being left on the High Street does give us a massive opportunity for new shoots, and we must regain control of the town centre buildings and that’s the chance we’ve got now.”
Acknowledging more empty premises means a bigger challenge, Mr Baker said: “It does also potentially give the opportunity of working faster on a bigger scale if all of those potentially become available.”
Superdrug are expected to have relocated in time for the expiration of their lease in the summer, and a spokesman said: “We are committed to serving our customers in Dumfries.”

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