MUSIC lovers across the Vale and Cotswolds will be saddened by the sudden closure of Evesham’s independent record shop Rapture.

It was one of the last independent music shops in the county, and won plaudits for its customer service.

Owner Gary Smith is angry about circumstances that he believes brought about the downfall of the business.

He describes the handling of the Abbey Bridge closure as a fiasco, and criticises local planning policies controlling supermarket developments.

We sympathise with Mr Smith and his staff. The bridge closure extended long beyond the 10-week period initially promised, and was a blow for many businesses in Evesham.

But there are other factors at play here. Over 90 per cent of the UK’s independent record shops have shut in the last 25 years, and their decline is continuing at a higher rate than independent shops overall.

Traditional high streets in towns such as Evesham face tough times too.

Excluding central London, high street footfall in the UK has fallen by about 10 per cent in the last three years, while the number of town centre stores fell by almost 15,000 between 2000 and 2009.

Change is inevitable, but the outlook is not all gloomy.

The Abbey Bridge debacle has galvanised the town. Initiatives have sprung up to support local traders, including this newspaper’s Grow In Evesham campaign.

There is a renewed focus on the challenges that lie ahead, and that can only stand us in good stead.