Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Becoming like a 'ghost town'

By Laura Pettigrew
Lanarkshire reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Boarded up shop - Rutherglen
A number of the shops on the Main Street are boarded up

Rutherglen is among five Scottish towns named by researchers as likely to be worst affected by the current economic downturn and with a quick glance along the Main Street it is not hard to see why.

Boarded up shop-fronts are a familiar sight on many a Scottish high street but in towns such as Rutherglen they perhaps appear more frequently than elsewhere.

Local resident Alan Morton, 57, said: "I am relatively new to Rutherglen and in the short time I've been here the amount of shops that have closed is unreal.

"As you can see there are lots of boarded-up fronts. They only stay for a very short-time. They open up and then are gone before you know it.

The former Royal burgh's problems could lie in the fact it is situated so close to Glasgow.

Many local people say the would sooner hop in their car and head to the city centre, or to out-of-town shopping parks such as Silverburn, than venture down the high street.

Current crisis

Margaret Morton, 63, said: "We used to be a really good burgh, with lots and lots of nice shops but these days there is not much left in the town centre."

Jack Coull runs a bakery and hot food takeaway in Rutherglen.

It is a family business which has been in the town for more than 50 years.

He said: "Our turnover is down and we supply food to a lot of factories and offices in the area who have also told me things are tough - but we have been expecting it.

"The current crisis has not come as a big surprise.

"I'm not particularly confident about the future. We are hanging on by our finger nails. We depend on our regular customers but money is tight for them too.

"January and February are always bad but this year it's going to be even worse."

Mr Coull added: "Small shops like mine are dying out because the big supermarkets sell everything now and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The small guy on the high street is finished."

Shops - Rutherhlen
Businesses call on people to shop locally
Douglas Millar of Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce said: "Rutherglen is very close to Glasgow and often people are much more likely to get in their car and go shopping there rather than stay local.

"For that reason the current economic crisis is going to have a more detrimental impact on towns like Rutherglen than on places that are further away from the big cities.

"We want to encourage people to shop locally and help boost trade in the town."

Mr Millar added: "There is a bit of work to be done but it's not all doom and gloom and I think we may be able to avoid some of the closures the researchers are predicting.

"Businesses need to market themselves effectively and look at collaborating to encourage shopping locally.

"In East Kilbride traders take part in a voucher scheme and that might be worth considering in Rutherglen.

"The Chamber of Commerce is also there to support local traders. We offer business mentoring which could help them weather the storm."

Good selection

Jim Clark works for Clyde Gateway, a regeneration agency set up a year ago to drive long-term development in the area.

He said: "We are working towards the long-term regeneration of Rutherglen and I believe the future is brighter than this survey suggests.

"Over the next two decades we hope to bring up to 20,000 jobs to the area with the development of the new M74 link and the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

"The spin-off from these projects should be that Rutherglen town centre will become a populated and vibrant place to shop.

"We hope that by brining employment to the area we, in turn, help boost local businesses and trade."

Nicola Walker, 36, lives in East Kilbride but shops in Rutherglen when she visits her father.

She said: "I like to shop here. There is a good selection of shops in the arcade.

"If all the people who live roundabout just shopped here and supported local traders then I think then town centre would do ok."



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SEE ALSO
Downturn to create 'ghost towns'
07 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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