Leyburn business warns that stores could close unless action is taken

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Richmond)

A LEYBURN businessman has said the “lights were going out” in the town and that he and other businesses are facing tough times after making 50 per cent losses last year.

Andy Brook, owner of Royals of Leyburn clothing store, said not enough is being done to support business and tourism.

“We had quite a devastating year last year - we are 50 per cent down on 2011 - mainly because of the weather but tourism footfall has dropped to unsustainable levels since the closure of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC),” said Mr Brook.

“Tourists used to come into town in their thousands to book tickets for activity park Forbidden Corner, who might have had a couple of hours to wait and spend money in the town, but we have lost all that now.”

Mr Brook said if business does not improve this year he may be forced to close after eight years of trading.

“When they turned the lights off in the TIC, they turned the lights off in the town,” he added.

Mr Brook also said Leyburn Town Council were not doing enough to support business and had allowed the town to decline.

He said: “Tourism is in a disarray - no one is in charge.”

But clerk of Leyburn Town Council Julie Forrest said the council was doing a lot to help boost tourism in the town.

She said: “The town council does all it can to help meet the needs of local businesses.

“We work closely with the business association; keep the town in bloom with flowers all year round; support Christmas events and lights; give financial support to the annual 1940s event in the town that draws lots of tourists; and we did a lot to fund and organise the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year.

“It was a great shame when the TIC had to close - but there is a new Tourist Information Point in a new location in the town, run by volunteers, and serves the town very well.”

But Mr Brook said unless something changes soon businesses would start to close.

“I have noticed a massive decline in the last 18 months - and nobody is listening to what needs to be done.”

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