WHITBY will be like “a ghetto again” if attractions are not drafted in and more is not done to help independent businesses, local traders fear.
The stark warning came from business owners in the town who say national chains such as JD Wetherspoon and Sainsbury’s are making worse what are already challenging times for local businesses.
Trade is starting to feel the knock on effect from the loss of visitors that were generated by tall ships the Endeavour and the Grand Turk and the filming of popular tv series Heartbeat which ceased three years ago.
And talk of the possibility that a hotel might be created on Whitby Business Park will only add to the pressure being put on small businesses to survive.
Town councillor Amanda Smith said: “I have been talking to businesses on Church Street and they have been devastated by Wetherspoon and Sainsbury’s. They put a lot of time into refurbishing them and this has knocked them for six, they might not be there in a year’s time.
“If we don’t do something to help the independents, we are going to be a ghetto again and we are heading back to times pre-Endeavor.”
Coun David Chance who is responsible for tourism in the borough said Whitby was still pulling in the visitors but that they were “sandwich day-trippers” because of the general economic situation.
He added: “They are spending money to get here, but not spending money in the town and these are trying times that we have got to get over.
“We have got to find some attractions and a lot of time has been spent trying to get a tall ship, it was the saddest day when the Turk left but it is a fact of life and the market will dictate what people want.”
The discussion came at a council meeting at Sneaton Castle on Tuesday evening where plans the expansion and re-development of Whitby Business Park was on the agenda. They include the possibility for a pub, hotel and more retail chains selling bulky goods like sofas and beds.