Weston-super-Mare's high street is at a 'low point' Mayor admits

Weston-super-Mare's Mayor has admitted the town's high street is at a "low point", but insists local independent businesses can still succeed.

In the past decade the number of people visiting high streets in the West Country has fallen by 22%, according to Springboard.

Marks and Spencer closed its store in the town in April 2019, leaving a large hole in a prime location - and it's still boarded up today.

The former site of Marks and Spencer is still empty. Credit: ITV West Country

Mayor Mark Canniford said: "High streets in general are struggling. Weston is no different. There are empty units. People say there is nothing on the high street - but that isn't true."

The opportunity referred to by Mr Canniford lies with home-grown independent businesses, not with the big-name brands.

Winnie's Bakery continues to succeed despite tough competition. Credit: ITV West Country

Aileen Smith has been running Winnie's Bakery for three decades.

In that time she's fought off competition from the likes of Greggs, which is positioned less than 50 metres away.

She says business is going well, but is concerned about the rise of out-of-town retail parks and the problem of parking in town centres.

Walker and Ling was established more than 100 years ago. Credit: ITV West Country

Another business performing well, where many others have struggled, is Walker and Ling - also located on the high street.

The clothing department store has benefited from the trade left behind by Marks and Spencer.

Sam Walker's great-great-grandfather set up the shop in 1904. He believes this type of independent shop is the future - despite the threat of online shopping.

While the boarded up shops may paint a bleak picture, there is plenty of optimism in the Somerset town.

The council is starting its own scheme to help fund independent businesses for their first year of trading.

So while big brands may continue to depart - it's hoped Weston's high-street will change for the better.