Northampton Town Centre – Lame Excuse – Terminal Decline?
I make no apology for returning to the problem of the increasing decline of Northampton and can’t help being staggered by the insistence of the Northampton Conservatives that the continuing number of people who have turned their backs on visiting the Town Centre is down to the weather.
The latest figures show that the number of visitors to Northampton in the last year has now fallen by over 711,000 which is the highest annual fall in a single year ever.
The problem the Conservatives have is that when first confronted with questions about the declining footfall they made a knee jerk excuse and ultimately basic error of giving a lazy and ill-thought out excuse.
Any sensible and reasonable administration would have when challenged carried out a detailed survey of the Northampton residents asking them why they have voted with their feet to abandon visiting the Town Centre.
I bet the reasons given would not have been the weather and in fact would go as far as to say that it wouldn’t even be in the top ten.
Perhaps it is only the people I speak to, which I doubt, who when asked why they don’t go to Northampton always include in their answer with at best,
It’s filthy and unattractive
It’s easier to go to Milton Keynes where you’re made welcome
What has Northampton got to offer, the shops are dire
There isn’t enough public transport and it is too expensive
and at the worst comments that certainly couldn’t be published in a blog.
The problem with the Conservatives ‘head in the sand’ attitude is that it doesn’t address or give any confidence to current businesses or to potential investors that they know what is a happening to or even care what the town needs.
It is estimated that the minimum average that visitors to the Town Centre spend is £20 which means that the economic impact on businesses is in the region of £15 million a year.
What is certain is that the economic impact alone of almost three-quarters of a million fewer people visiting the town should be ringing alarm bells.
In an attempt to hide their failure to support the Town Centre the Conservatives talk about ‘cranes on the skyline’ being a demonstration of their regeneration policy for Northampton.
Of course there are cranes on the sky line, building the University of Northampton student accommodation on the former St Johns Car Park and the new bus interchange on the former Fishmarket site.
The problem with their argument is clear for all to see.
Cranes on the sky line are transient as is the employment during the demolition and construction phase.
The problem is that once the cranes have gone the underlying problem of a declining Northampton will remain unless the Conservatives start to realise that it isn’t just new buildings that are a part of regeneration but the support and improvement of the existing businesses and infrastructure.
If the Conservatives don’t get a grip then they may well as they keep saying ‘Put Northampton Back on Track’ the problem is that the Track they have currently chosen to take is the ‘Track to Oblivion’.
Northampton Labour have Listened to the residents and recognise that our town has a unique history and heritage that should be encouraged and nurtured not destroyed which is why we support and want to see it have control over its own destiny by being an independent Unitary Authority.
It is why we put forward proposals, all of which were rejected and voted against by the Conservatives for increased Park Rangers and Neighbourhood Wardens, police, streetlights and investment in the Town Centre.
It will be the residents through the ballot box who will ultimately decide the future of Northampton and it is only Northampton Labour who is prepared to listen and deliver which is why the County Council Election in May is so important.