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Lib Dems urge council bosses to take action over future of Debenhams

March 14, 2019 12:00 PM

Isabel Brazil and David Brown outside DebenhamsThe Liberal Democrats are urging council bosses to secure the long-term future of the Debenhams department store in Gloucester.

The nationwide chain is planning on closing 50 stores across the country over the next five years, which will also mean the loss of 4,000 jobs.

It is not known whether the store in King's Square, which has been open since 1973, is part of those plans.

The motion has been proposed by Councillor Isabel Brazil, who represents Kingsholm Ward, and calls on the city council to work with other interested parties to secure Debenham's future in Gloucester.

It will be debated by councillors on March 21.

"The Debenhams store is the largest in Gloucester and we are worried about its future," she said.

"It has been trading in King's Square for nearly 50 years and not only is a focal point for shoppers but is also an important part of the Kings Quarter regeneration project.

"Nationwide high street retailers are struggling in the face of online competition and in the last year we've seen HMV, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin disappear completely.

"Others, such as Homebase, Mothercare, Carpetright and New Look have closed stores."

British retail is in the midst of a massive transformation with one in every five pounds spent now via the internet.

Hucclecote Councillor David Brown, who is seconding the motion, added: "We cannot risk losing Debenhams from Gloucester City Council.

"The leader of the council and the Conservative administration must do all they can to ensure that Debenhams remains in the city.

"If Debenhams does close then the city council must do all it can to ensure a department store continues trading at the site."

The Lib Dems want to see the city council offices relocate from the Docks to the Kings Quarter, which would help revitalise the project.

"Having the city council move to the Kings Quarter - as well as building a new civil justice centre - would help regenerate the city centre and also mean the scheme was less reliant on retail to anchor the development," Councillor Brazil added.

The motion says:

"This council notes that Debenhams PLC has recently announced a profits warning and that throughout the UK its stores are suffering from poor trading conditions.

This council notes that Debenhams PLC is planning to close possibly 50 stores around the country.

This council also agrees that the Debenhams store in Gloucester is a focal point in Kings Square and provides an anchor for the Kings Quarter regeneration project.

This council agrees that the leader of the council should work closely with all interested parties to secure the long term future of the Debenhams Department Store in the city centre.

This council confirms that Gloucester must continue to benefit from a department store trading at the location where Debenhams is today."