Our High Street is a fantastic asset for our town but like many retail led areas in the country, it is having to face huge challenges to remain relevant and viable. As the internet and out of town shopping centres take more of the market, the squeeze on small, independent retailers is increasing.
In towns like ours, where we have a large number of independent stores, we have to work harder than ever to try and attract more people into the town’s main shopping area. It sounds like an easy task but in reality it’s a complex situation with no single solution.
The obvious solution to some is to increase car parking and whilst that’s something that needs to happen, it’s both expensive and I’m not sure it would solve the problems overnight. Despite efforts to find a suitable location, it’s also difficult to see where you could build a car park close enough to the High Street for people to actually use it.
So whilst parking is important and we have to once and for all tackle both traffic flows and parking, we also have to improve the ‘offer’ of the town. We have to do more to promote the fantastic facilities we have at the Memorial Park and The Croft. We have to impress on others the brilliant heritage we have through both the Parish Church and the Civic Society. We have to promote what we have to both people living in the town and those who live around us. We have a market of 50,000 people who live within a ten minute drive of our town but at the moment, they aren’t using our shops and High Street as much as we need them to be.
So the Town Council is looking at ways to improve the High Street and our tourism offer both to attract local residents and visitors from further afield. We’ve set aside more than 10% of the annual council tax we collect to show our commitment to trying to tackle this issue head on. We don’t want to waste the money or this opportunity so we’re taking our time to make sure we get it right.
Whether its improving transport, parking, promotion, events, retail units or something completely different, I’d love to hear from you about the ideas you have for our town. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org