SWINDON town centre has been 'left in ruin'. That was one of the claims made by locals after news broke of Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green's decision to close five retail outlets here.

Lesley Westen, 69, from Park South, has lived in Swindon since 1956 and has seen many shops close over the years.

She said: “It’s becoming a norm, everything else in town is shut and it’s not getting better. There’s nothing new opening up.

“It’s a shame really, because it used to have all the shops in the town centre. With these ones closing, there’ll be nothing left.

In a statement, Arcadia chief executive Ian Grabiner explained that the increase of online competition has been one of the reasons behind the move.

Lesley added: “I think it’s down to technology because everybody is doing everything online. They say you can get things online, but you can’t actually see what you are getting and what happens if it crashed, you've got nothing.

“And also, when people have busy lives, they want to go to one shop and do everything, instead of going around into the different shops that we used to have. I guess that’s also why they are closing.

“Swindon is well known for getting rid of all the old buildings and businesses anyway. We lost a lot of the character in the town centre.”

Craig Bartlett, 45, who moved to Park North a couple of years ago, added: “The town centre has been left in ruin, I pass through it a few times a week, but it’s now mostly coffee down there.

“I’ve been living in Swindon for two years now, and it’s getting worse, mainly now that they are closing more shops.

“This is just an example but I used to get tap water conditioner for my goldfish from Wilko. I’ve been there over the last month and I couldn’t see it on the shelves and when I asked a couple of people in there, they told me to look online."

“If all the staff of the shops had this attitude, frankly from looking online I could probably find it cheaper, so places that I used to use as a destination I tend not to bother and the more that happens, the less likely I’m going to go in. So I’m not surprised they are closing shops.”

Phil Edwards, from Eldene added: “The town centre is disastrous, where are we going to end up?

“I’ve been living in Swindon all my life. It was one of the richest town in Europe, but now it’s going to the pit.

“The solution would be to get the right people in place, people able to make the right decisions and improve our economy. It’s terrible to hear that other shops are closing.”

And Raymond Fernandes,76, from Eldene said: “People go to town centre only for coffee shops, but we want shops to go into.

"There’s no town centre because there’s nothing to go in. You want to go in there, choose your product – that’s something you can’t do online. You want to see what you are buying.”