03:50AM, Tuesday 01 May 2012
'Enough is enough' says a businesswoman determined to halt the demise of the Maidenhead.
Erika Seekings, co-owner of King Street taxi firm U Want, is calling for fellow Maidonians to help her stop any more shops shutting.
The 61-year-old wants 20 residents and traders to come forward to be part of a new forum charged with finding innovative ways to bring new life to shops.
She feels by pooling their skills, everyday men and women can come up with a solution and no organisation in Maidenhead is actively offering a similar platform.
An initial forum would be held with further meetings organised if it was successful.
"I'm appealing to business people who are struggling to let us know what help they need," said the former Burnham Grammar School pupil.
"I have got lots of ideas but can't do it on my own so need some like-minded people to come forward."
She was spurred into action after the Advertiser reported there were 55 empty retail units in the town centre - the highest number ever recorded.
Erika, from Cox Green, has run her business here for more than 40 years and said: "We need to try to do something new."
She has her finger on the pulse thanks to feedback from 12,000 customers on the firm's books and added: "We used to be really busy with all generations coming in but now everyone goes to Windsor or Marlow instead as customers say Maidenhead is just a mass of banks and coffee shops."
She knows big investments do not always provide the solution.
The U Want offices were moved to make way for both the Waitrose and Grenfell Island developments and Erika said: "Each time they said it would revitalise the town but it hasn't so I don't think a department store or big shops are the answer.
"We need to develop Maidenhead as a town not a city and have quirky shops like Marlow does."
Email reporter Laura Enfield on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be part of the forum.
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Police raided addresses in Lillibrooke Crescent, Cox Green, and in Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, at about 7.15am.