A SENIOR councillor has said the council is providing activities to help bring shoppers back to the Top of Town, after news that a charity shop decided to close due to falling footfall and increased antisocial behaviour.

As previously reported, the RSPCA shop on London Street has closed and the charity fear they will not be able to continue their work in the area.

The council's portfolio holder for economic development, Cllr Hannah Golding, said that it was "always sad when businesses in the borough close their doors", adding: "But following a year of COVID-19 restrictions, high streets across the UK are continuing to experience the effects of changes in shopping habits.

“To help bring more footfall back to the town centre and some animation to the Top of the Town, we have started a programme of activities including a new street market to showcase the borough’s small local businesses, as well as Basingstoke Festival.

"We are also continuing to support businesses by providing free mentoring and support via the council-funded IncuHive enterprise hub, grant support and the forthcoming shop front grant scheme to enable existing and new retailers to improve their premises.

"Longer term we are working on a town centre strategy that will support the town’s resilience and help the town centre to adapt to a new era of shopping and recreation."

Cabinet member for communities, Cllr Simon Bound, added: “To tackle antisocial behaviour, we encourage all businesses to report incidents to the police so that they can build evidence of the issues faced by those affected.

"In addition, our community safety patrol officers regularly visit the town centre area and will deal with these types of incidents when they see them. Businesses and residents can also speak to them about ongoing issues by calling 01256 844 844 or emailing community.safety@basingstoke.gov.uk.

“We have just completed a public consultation on proposals for a new public spaces protection order for the town centre and surrounding parks and open spaces.

"If made, this will provide authorised officers from the council and police powers to request someone to stop drinking and to seize any alcohol in their possession if they are acting in an antisocial manner.”

The RSPCA are looking for new units and say they are "worried we may not be able to continue our amazing charity work".

A spokesperson added on social media that the effects of the Covid pandemic "has hit us hard". Three lockdowns saw charity shops closed and a massive impact on the sector.

The charity has had a presence in the region for 50 years.