Empty Fleetwood store cordoned off again as bailiffs move in

The former Store Twenty One premises on Lord Street in Fleetwood
The former Store Twenty One premises on Lord Street in Fleetwood

An empty shop in Fleetwood town centre which has become a prominent eyesore has now been visited by council bailiffs.

Wyre Council has taken action against the owners of the former Store Twenty One premises, on Lord Street, over unpaid bills.

The council confirmed its staff had entered the building, which has untidy, cracked and boarded up windows, to seize property in order to recoup money owed by the landlords.

It occurred just as the premises had to be cordoned off this week, for the third time in two months, due to concern over the risk of windows blowing out because of high winds.

The largest shop unit in Fleetwood town centre – and was once the most prestigious – has been hit by a string of negative incidents since it became empty in August 2016 when the most recent occupant, Store Twenty One, ceased trading.

Until 1986 the town’s cherished Marks and Spencer store was based there, but since then the building, and the high street itself, has gradually declined.

A Wyre Council spokesman said: “Bailiffs have been ordered to the former Store Twenty One premises in Fleetwood as a result of unpaid business rates since 2016.”

The council would not divulge how much money was owing on the bill nor what had been seized and has not named the owners of the building.

However, it is understood the building is owned by a religious charity in Greater Manchester and not, as some suspected, Marks and Spencer.

The Wyre spokesman added the authority is also liaising with the owners about tidying the property up and making it safe – an issue which has become increasingly necessary after several in light of the ongoing incidents.

In March last year, a rusty sign on the front of the building crashed to the pavement below and a serious accident was only averted because it occurred in the evening.

In December last year, police discovered a huge cannabis factory with around 1,700 plants growing there, with the crop given a street value of around £3 million.

Two teenage Vietnamese men in the building were arrested but later found to be victims of modern slavery and released into safe accommodation.

At the end of May the pavement outside the shop had to be cordoned off after a window fell out in high winds and glass smashed onto the pavement below. Again, an accident was avoided because it occurred at night.

In June the pavement outside had to be cordoned off again after a window blew open and it was feared it would be torn from its frame and crash onto the ground below.

And now barriers have been back up around the building as concern over its safety rises.

Fleetwood resident Angela Patchett said: “The building should be condemned, it brings the town centre down and it has become dangerous.

“At this rate, something will only be sorted out after there has been a serious accident.”