Town Centre is Not Important?
According to the Northampton Conservatives led by Cllr David Mackintosh the huge decline in the number of people visiting Northampton Town Centre over the past two years is not important.
The latest data from the Borough Council shows that the fall in people visiting the town in the six month April to September this year fell by almost 70,000 compared to the same time in 2012.
In itself a drop of 70,000 may well be considered as nothing much to worry about which is certainly the attitude taken by the Conservatives who when challenged at a recent meeting said through Cllr Lane, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny that it wasn’t important.
What is being covered up of course is that this was the same arrogant “we’re alright” attitude displayed for the last two years even though compared to the same period in 2011 the fall is over 560,000.
When asked for an explanation at this time last year we were told that the fall was due to the bad and rainy summer of 2011 and that people were still visiting the town but because of the fear of getting wet were only shopping in the Grosvenor Centre.
The implication was that Northampton people were a bunch of ‘wusses’ who because they were afraid of getting wet didn’t go to the Market Square or Abington Street where the ‘footfall monitors’ are situated.
On the face of it and when said with conviction the gullible may well believe the excuses.
Except and it is a big except,
There is no way they could know if people were as they claimed getting off the bus, shopping in the Grosvenor Centre and going home on the bus because it is only this year according to Cllr Hadland that the footfall monitor between the bus station and Grosvenor has been installed.
So why did they use it as an excuse?
I have written about how in fact things would have been even worse without the major events that drew people into the town in 2012 such as the Queens Jubilee, Olympic Torch, Godiva, Carnival and return of the St Crispins Fair.
Of course what the latest information reveals is that for all of their spin things have got worse not better.
Being the time of year when people are charitable let’s believe that the fall in numbers in 2012 was all down to the weather.
Try to suspend logic for a moment and believe.
The weather this year between April and September was really good in comparison to the year before which means that all of the Northampton ‘wusses’ should have flooded back into the Town Centre to enjoy the resurgence that the Conservatives keep telling us has happened.
So where was everyone?
Of course the simple reason for the continuing fall in numbers is that the excuses being made up by Cllr Mackintosh and his colleagues now that they have been caught out has now been replaced by the “it’s not important” excuse.
How the Leader of the Council can say that a fall of over 560,000 visitors over a six month period to the Town Centre is not important when it involves a loss of spending in the local economy in the region of £14 million is baffling.
Is there any wonder that businesses such as the House of Fraser have pulled out of Northampton?
What the Northampton Conservatives don’t appear to understand is that their failure to attract those who voted with their feet in 2012 back into Northampton in 2013 has had the cumulative impact of a loss to the local economy of £28 million.
In January we will get the results for the autumn, October to December period which if the trend has continued will see the numbers of visitors continuing to fall.
The same period last year compared to the year before saw a drop of over 140,000.
It may not “be important” to Cllr Mackintosh and the Northampton Conservatives but it is to the towns businesses and those who are looking for retail investment opportunities.
The question is this,
“If you are a major or independent retailer would you invest in a Town where the footfall has dropped by over 800,000 since April 2011”?, and
“Would you invest in a Town where the Leader of the Council and his colleagues consider a drop in footfall as being unimportant”?
I think the answer is obvious,
Why would you take a risk with your own or your shareholders money?
By reducing the drop in footfall as a minor unimportant issue the Northampton Conservatives are neglecting its importance, betraying the local businesses and economy and endangering any further retail investment.