Our once-thriving high street now looks like 'second-class Las Vegas' with eyesore shopfronts – it's ruining our city | The Sun
OUTRAGED residents are devastated their once-thriving city has deteriorated into a "second-class Las Vegas."
Disgusted locals in Canterbury have united with the council to crackdown on "overbearing," offensive and garish shops destroying their town.
Marcus, 18, who lives nearby, agreed the storefronts are creating a tacky image for the area.
He told Kent Online: "I always thought that those shops were rather garish and they all seem to have similar names – it’s all rather weird.
"The lights on the high street are definitely a bit too far.
"We’re in the centre of town so the jurisdiction has to apply – especially with listed buildings.
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"If you just left it to the shopkeepers, then Canterbury’s high street wouldn’t look like Canterbury’s high street."
Another disappointed local, Mary Anderson, said the new and offensive shops are constantly popping up.
"I think it is very important to maintain the character of the town," she urged.
Councillor Nick Eden-Green said: "We’ve got to do something about it urgently, because it’s frankly like a second-class Las Vegas in Canterbury now.”
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While other people, such as Natasha from Folkestone, offered a mixed opinion.
The 42-year-old sympathised with struggling businesses but wanted the council to uphold Canterbury's historic value.
"There are a lot of vape shops – maybe we should just cut back on those types of shops," she suggested.
Kabil Singh, who manages iCrash as well as iRepair in St George’s Street has come under fire for his signage.
He defended himself and said: "A lot of shops have signs like that.
"I don’t think they make the high street look bad, because there are a lot of stores – there’s Third Eye and another vape shop. And there is a chicken shop called Smokey’s.
“Businesses are struggling. We’ve come out from coronavirus, there’s a war between Ukraine and Russia – it’s impacted all businesses.
“They have to support the businesses, not destroy the businesses. They’re constantly charging us business rates for this place. Now for months, they’re closing the high street [for redevelopment works].
We’ve got to do something about it urgently, because it’s frankly like a second-class Las Vegas in Canterbury now.”
“You can see [the construction] in front of the shop. We can’t survive.”
However, in good spirit he said he's happy to work with the council to resolve the dispute.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Nick Eden-Green told colleagues the scourge is “getting worse by the day.”
“People are just completely taking the mickey."
Neil Baker suggested sites such as the High Street branch of iCrash should be reprimanded for its signage.
“Buildings that project apes smoking cannabis onto the pavement probably were [on the list],” he told the meeting.
“Once Canterbury has had its crackdown it will hopefully then be rolled out to other parts of the district which are suffering as well.”
This debate has led to more than 30 retailers being ordered to remove signage and lights from their store fronts.
Council officials claim their goal is to make sure the areas – which hold World Heritage Site status – “remain healthy and vibrant and are places people want to visit”.
The council’s enforcement boss, Cllr Ashley Clark, said: “The district’s history and heritage are the jewels in its crown, and we need to move heaven and earth to protect it.
“We know businesses are facing a multitude of challenges, but it is vital we preserve the character of the areas that we love – our residents and visitors demand nothing less.
"That is why we have invested in the planners and lawyers we need to make sure people follow the rules.”
This comes desperate residents in hundreds of once-thriving towns across the UK are now struggling.
In Sturry, Kent, residents say they are feeling more shut off as ever due to a series of closures on its high street.
OAP Ann Alexander, 84, said: "That will be a nightmare. I use it at least three times a week."
And she also noticed the decline in Canterbury, mentioned above.
"Canterbury is bad too. I don't think they want people to come anymore," she added.
"There's no community feel. None. It's sad. It's very sad. We just don't see anybody."
Elsewhere in the UK locals in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, expressed their disappointment in the council and state of their town.
They claimed the council fails to keep the streets clean, maintain flower beds or respond to questions.
The once bustling market town now lies barren with most high street shops sitting empty.
One retired off-shore worker, 72, said: "If you want to know how to kill a town then look at Berwick."
And in Withernsea, East Yorkshire, a popular seaside resort in the summer, locals are struggling to afford food in the off season.
The town has been ravaged by the crippling cost of living crisis – leaving hundreds dependent on emergency food parcels.
It's seen hundreds more households signed up to a community scheme to pick up supermarket food at knock-down prices.
Charity bosses say the town is now so poor some kids have "no shoes" and warn how parents have turned to predatory loan sharks to survive.
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