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Elm Park owners of closed shop hit out at ‘waifs and strays’

PUBLISHED: 12:07 02 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:21 02 January 2015

Members of a local Laurel & Hardy society mourn the closing of a high street shop (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Members of a local Laurel & Hardy society mourn the closing of a high street shop (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Archant

A married couple who have been forced to close their shop after 16 years have blamed it on “waifs and strays” moving to the area who want things “for nothing”.

Rita Dempsey, 62, and her husband Raymond, 57, shut Another Nice Mess in The Broadway, Elm Park, for the last time on Wednesday because the shop, described as a “small Wilko’s,” wasn’t making enough money.

Angry Rita, of Orpington, has said an identical shop being allowed to open next door is one of the reasons for the closure.

She also believes the recession has led to Elm Park changing from a “classy” area into one filled with “charity shops and takeaways”.

“It’s basically charity shops and takeaways now,” she said. “Nobody stands a chance. In hindsight we should have closed four years ago but we kept going to try and support Elm Park. When we came here it was such a classy area. Now it’s full of people who have moved out from London – waifs and strays who want stuff for nothing.”

Raymond believes the area has deteriorated and said the council “doesn’t care” about the area, a claim the council has strongly denied.

Cllr Robert Benham, cabinet member for environment, said the council put a “big effort” into supporting businesses in Elm Park”, and has “limited powers” on the types of shops in high streets.

He said: “We supported the Christmas event and secured funding to improve and modernise the town centre with parking bays and new pavements. We strongly support our high streets.”

But Raymond believes the area is “deteriorating”.

“There is mass duplication,” he said. “It’s ridiculous to allow another shop to open next door selling the same stuff.

“We had two good barbers, now there’s four – and the place is like a rubbish tip. The Broadway in the early morning smells like a drug area.”

Regular customers have also spoken of their disappointment over the closure.

Margaret Woods said: “It’s a great shame, so many people are going to miss it, I’ve made great friends with Rita and Raymond.”


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