PURLEY'S traders and business owners are taking the town's future into their own hands by setting up a Business Improvement District (BID).
The scheme would see each store holder pay a 1.5 per cent levy on their business rates to be spent directly on the town.
Simon Cripps, who heads the Purley Business Association (PBA), is corralling the town's store holders to agree to the scheme and held a meeting in the Jolly Farmers on Tuesday evening.
He said: "The way things are going, Purley is going down and down and down.
"Not only are people shopping outside of the town when it used to be a hub for business but we have the second highest number of empty shops in the borough.
"Not only do we need to attract businesses back into these shops but if they are empty, they at least need to be made to look nice."
Nigel Aliano, who owns the All Bikes shop in Godstone Road, said Purley had turned into a "dirty" and "smelly" place after the "council washed its hand of it".
"There are so many rich and famous people living in Purley and do you ever see them in town? No," he said.
"Purley used to be lovely and now its run down. The car parks and underpasses smell of urine."
Mr Cripps said he did not believe Tesco had sucked the "life blood" out of Purley but did think the development of Westfield in Croydon would draw more people away.
"If the town is going to get an increase of through traffic then we need to make the place appealing to gain any benefit, if not there is a good chance business could be taken away from the town," he said.
"In business you cannot afford to stay still, you either grow or fail, much is the same with business districts such as Purley. We must invest and grow or we will fail."
One of the first issues that needed dealing with in the town is the parking, the business leader said.
"I do think there is enough parking in the town but the car parks are poor and many people don't know they are there."
Mr Cripps said the group would like to see town centre managers back – figures who liaised with businesses and made sure issues were under control.
"The council took those away so we are going to have to invest in these things ourselves," he said.
For more information about the BID, go to www.purleybusiness. co.uk or call Simon Cripps on 020 3137 1826.