We live in UK's 'worst seaside town' – M&S has stood empty for YEARS on abandoned high street… here's why it's declining | The Sun

LOCALS have slammed their own seaside town as the "worst" in the UK – and revealed fears that it's going to get even worse.

Clacton-on-Sea in Essex was named one of the worst in the country for anti-social behaviour – and those living there agree.

Residents told Sun Online they’re used to seeing alcoholics and drug-users in their town centre.

High street shops are closing down, leaving ugly empty units, and street cleaners are rarely seen, they added.

The former Marks & Spencers shopfront, which closed in 2018, is still empty.

The town's Sainsbury's, which closed in 2021, is also empty – as is its former Post Office.

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And locals fear it's getting worse with no new stores replacing those that are shutting up shop.


Denise Bustin, 66, has lived in nearby Holland-on-Sea with her husband Allan, 74, for 28 years.

The couple fumed over the decline they’ve seen in the last three decades, with anti-social behaviour now so bad they won’t go into town at night.

Denise said: “It is the worst seaside town in the country. I agree with that. It’s awful.

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“You’ve got drug addicts, the alcoholics all sitting out in the centre of town. People won’t sit there. They used to have a lovely fountain but they shut that down because it cost too much to run.”

Allan said the area “has gone downhill something awful”.

He added: “All the shops have closed. All around us there are empty units. We used to have a Woolworths and a Marks and Spencers.

“Clacton used to be really lovely. We’d walk the two miles home from town after seeing a show at night and you wouldn’t fear it. We could never do that now – it’s too dangerous.”

The town has an anti-social behaviour rate of 68 incidents per every 1,000 residents – far above the UK average of 17.

And research from Which? saw Claton-on-Sea named among the worst seaside destinations in the UK – tied for last place with Skegness in Lincolnshire.

The study by the consumer group asked people to rate 118 locations based on their beaches, seafront, accommodation, peace and quiet, scenery and value for money.

Visiting the town, The Sun found empty store fronts emblazoned with crude graffiti.

Paul Wiseman, 35, and Stacey Davis, 35, have lived in the area their entire lives – but are now moving to Colchester to be with family.

Paul said: “It’s s***. It’s probably right to call it the worst seaside town. We’ve been here so long we don’t even notice it but it’s not great here.

“We’re leaving next week. We won’t miss it.”

Charlotte Mansfield, 27, said Clacton generally “can be rough”.

She added: “You just see drunk people all the time.”

Her pal Danni Ridstale, 27, added: “It is definitely really rough.”


Identical twins Brenda Nash and Maureen Reason, 78, moved to the area 11 years ago.

They love it – but worry about drugs and knifecrime.

Last year 646 arson attacks, 296 shoplifting incidents and 3,221 violent and sexual offences were reported, according to Crime Rate UK.

Maureen said: “We live in the posh part so it’s alright. There is a lot of anti-social behaviour in the town. We come in every week. We come for the Railway Club and the theatres. It’s good for us.

“You don’t know who’s carrying a knife, but other than that we find it lovely. We’d never move, not in a million years.”

Brenda added: “It’s not what they say it is, it’s just got a bad name. The trouble is there’s too much drugs. That’s the worst of it. It’s sad.

“I’m surprised it’s been voted the worst. It’s only the youngsters that turn to drink and drugs. They make it worse.”

Callum Leedale, 28, and Chelsea Plant, 27, are bringing up two small children in the town.

Callum said: “We both grew up here. It’s not the worst seaside town, but it’s definitely not the best. The anti-social behaviour doesn’t phase me. It is what it is. There are a lot of kids with no manners, doing things we wouldn’t do.

“We grew up differently to the way they did. They don’t care. They run riot and no one seems to do anything about it.

“All our family live here so what’s the point in going anywhere else.”

Chelsea added: “You’re definitely not surprised by antisocial behaviour when you see it let’s just put it that way.”

Mental health nurse Caroline Brown, 63, said the town has gone "down hill".

She added: “The town itself, with Marks and Spencer’s shutting, it’s really gone downhill.

“Someone was attacked outside Greggs here the other day.

“You get a lot of Londoners coming here to retire. There’s a lot of elderly people from London. They do say Jaywick is famous for being the worst place. It’s worst. You can tell just by looking at it.”

Her pal Glynes Davies, 69, added that “there’s nothing here for anybody”.

Glynes added: “I’ve never personally had any trouble. There are a lot of odd people here. I come from Bury St Edmunds and there the pavements are spotless, there’s a lovely market. Here the pavements are dire – they’re gross.

“You never see anyone cleaning them. It’s run down, like a lot of seaside towns.”


At the time of closing in 2018, M&S said its shuttering was "necessary but difficult".

Marc O’Connor, Head of Region for Essex at Marks & Spencer, said: “The decision to close our Clacton store was a difficult but necessary one.

"We’d like to thank our customers for the feedback they’ve given the team and we hope to see lots of them continuing to shop at our other stores in the local area, including our new Foodhall in Walton-on-the-Naze which opened on Wednesday, November 28.”

Sainsbury's wouldn't reveal why it shuttered it's town centre store.

A spokesman confirmed the closure of the town's store in 2021, adding: “Our Clacton-on-Sea store has now closed and we are doing everything we can to find alternative roles within Sainsbury's for those affected. Customers can continue to shop with us at our nearby stores."

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The Sun has reached out to M&S, Sainsbury's and Tendring District Council for comment.

It comes after Skegness was voted the "worst seaside town in the country" – leaving proud locals fuming.

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