THE DAILY Echo is running a series of articles focusing on the state of Bournemouth town centre.

A reporter counted more than forty empty shops during a short walk around the heart of town.

One man calling for regeneration has warned of an 'apocalyptic' future as retailers close their doors for good.

Residents and shoppers have blamed the dying high street on soaring rents and parking charges.

The economy and retail parks have been mentioned with anti-social behaviour also an issue.

At the time of writing, the articles have received more than 100 comments provoking debate amongst readers.

One reader commented: "We are also arguably the jewel of the south coast.

"We shouldn’t be surrendering to developers, grandiose high-rise schemes, certainly not in prime locations near the sea and centre.

"We should have more palm trees, European-style brasseries and [cafes] with heated terraces. Lovely independent clothing and food shops to browse and spend. Attractive hotels and boarding houses.

"The shops and stores that closed were mostly dinosaurs, or in the case of M&S - too small so only carried limited ranges.

"We shouldn’t forget we are Bournemouth, in one of the best locations in the world! Rename the town Bournemouth Spa - and build on that."

One person said: "You need affordable rents plus products or services that people actually want that are affordable. No mini-markets, no more coffee shops, no more cheap rubbish Poundland-type shops, etc."

Another reader added: "Bournemouth is in a Catch-22 situation. Unless we attract people to the town we won't have interesting shops to attract them. BCP Council has worked very hard to discourage visitors and done nothing to make Bournemouth a better place in which to live and enjoy visiting.

"Could I suggest that in the summer months, the council removes its paid parking regulations on the streets and in the car parks at weekends. By all means, fine people who park in places designated as no parking areas but 'sell' Bournemouth as an easy place to visit.

"We also need park & ride and more bus lanes. The cost of shop rentals and commercial council tax is a discussion for another day."

Meanwhile, one reader believes the town needs 'regeneration and forward thinking with reduced rates for new businesses'.

They also propose 'a food market in one of the old department stores and more money to move the homeless on and crack down on begging and petty crime'.

Another added: "I was born in Bournemouth and have lived there, or near to Bournemouth for most of my life (I'm 51). It is so sad to watch its decline. People go to CastlePoint Shopping Centre instead of Bournemouth as there's more choice in shops and parking is free! BCP should think about introducing free short-term parking to encourage people back into the town centre."

In future articles, the Echo will be speaking to shopkeepers, councillors and academics concerning the future of the town centre.

What are your views? Email your opinions to or call 01202 554601.