Our once-thriving market village is now a ghost town – locals are being forced out and we feel neglected | The Sun

DESPERATE residents feel neglected as their once thriving community is now barely scraping by in a "ghost town."

Furious locals in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, hit back at the council for ignoring their needs – "If you want to know how to kill a town then look at Berwick."

Berwick-upon-Tweed is one of many small villages in which basic amenities are being taken away – driving locals out.

The once bustling market town now lies barren with most high street shops sitting empty.

Even the last remaining post office has been shut down, forcing residents to get the bus or drive to reach the closest one.

People expressed their disappointment in the council and claimed they fail to keep the streets clean, maintain flower beds or respond to questions.

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George and Mary Anderson have lived in Berwick all of their lives.

Mary, 81, a retired carer, said: "The decline here has been going on for years.

"It is sad and it's getting neglected.

"The paths aren't being swept and the flowers don't get planted until August.

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"I worry for the younger generation growing up. There won't be much here for them.

"There are loads of nice little shops in other towns near us but this place has fallen down.

"I think it might be because of the rising rates which is forcing shops to shut.

"It was brilliant growing up here, there were so many shops."

Husband George, who used to work on farms, was furious when the local post office closed down.

The 82-year-old said: "The closest one is at an ASDA in Tweedmouth which is a car journey away.

"We saw a woman in her 90s recently who was standing at the bus stop waiting, just so she could go to the post office.

"It's a long distance for somebody using a stick.

"At one point there was three or four in Berwick and now there's only one relatively close by.

"Berwick is definitely a ghost town now. It's sad to see it going this way.

"There's also no affordable houses for the younger people so people are being pushed out of the town."

Colin Falla has lived in Berwick for 22 years and was sad to say his beloved village is now a ghost town.

The retired off-shore worker, 72, said: "If you want to know how to kill a town then look at Berwick.

"I used to be able to get one bus to town and get what I needed but now I can't do that because the shops are empty.

"If I want to go to the retail park it will add an extra hour onto my journey and I don't want to do that.

"I was talking about the same issue with my neighbour the other day.

"We were reminiscing about when you'd used to be able to get everything on the high street.

"But now it's all gone downhill. Home Bargains used to be brilliant but that's gone now.

"There's not much to the town centre anymore."


Another frustrated local, taxi driver David Hunter, has less work due to the closures. 

The 35-year-old said: "I've seen shop after shop close down over the last few years.

"Both sides of the street would be full of traders on market day but even that has been hit.

"It's a complete ghost town. 

"It will pick up at Easter when the tourists come but it's still not what it used to be.

"There's less work for taxi drivers and we're having to put our rates up.

"It's a shame to see when you consider what it used to be like.

"The shops are moving to retail parks which are out of the way."

And shops that remain open in Berwick struggle to keep raising their shutters every day.

Louise Lough runs the antique store Junk & Disorderly on the high street.

She said: "There used to be a lot of car parking spaces where you could stay for 45 minutes without a ticket.

"People could drop by and get what they needed but the council removed that so people have stopped coming.

"The rent is also far too high and the rates are ridiculous."

The 45-year-old claimed businesses are looking at a cost of £30,000 before they have opened the door.

There's also no affordable houses for the younger people so people are being pushed out of the town."

"We've never had a problem with footfall here but there has been a decline in the town," she continued.

"I even offered to cover the empty shop windows with pictures of the town but nobody at the council got back to me.

"The town is getting some bad press now but little things like addressing the windows would go a long way.

"Maybe if the landlords were charged for having empty units then that would encourage them to lower the rates."

Louise shares half of the shop with artist Angela Proctor, 62, who added: "We know loads of people who want to open shops but they can't afford it.

"They are lying empty because the costs are too high, not because there is no desire.

"It seems crazy that landlords would be happy to leave them empty.

"Two councillors have recently said that the high street isn't for retail anymore, but what else would it be for?

"The pavements aren't clean either and the whole thing is a real shame."

Berwick-upon-Tweed Council has been contacted for comment.

Across the UK hundreds of people have found themselves in the same desperate situation as the residents of Berwick.

Withernsea in East Yorkshire is a popular seaside resort in the summer but 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.

In Cornwall, Mousehole is an idyllic staycation spot – but residents of the small fishing village have to leave town to buy everyday essentials.

Rising visitor numbers have also wreaked havoc on the property market as houses are being snatched up by tourists for holiday homes.

One furious resident said: "I've got friends who cannot find a home to live in yet there are homes here that are only being visited three times a year, if that."

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"A lot of the properties are only visited twice a year, when they could be home to people contributing to life in the village," agreed another.

Where to find help if you’re struggling financially

The Healthy Start scheme offers out prepaid food cards to women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant or parents who have children under four.

You typically must also be on certain benefits, such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Child Tax Credit.

Some supermarkets which are part of the scheme include Tesco, Iceland and Aldi.

Also, Sainsbury's is offering at extra £2 to customers who shop with a Healthy Start card.

The Household Support Fund sees thousands of households can get £60 of free supermarket vouchers to spend on food and essentials.

The help will be dished out under a new round of £421million funding given by the government to the Household Support Fund.

To be eligible, you must be a care leaver or have a child who receives free school meals.

What you can get depends on your personal situation and also who your local council is.

Welfare assistance

Most local councils run their own welfare assistance schemes for households on low incomes or who are dealing with a crisis.

Grants can sometimes be worth up to £1,000.

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