Northampton Conservative – Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics
The latest figures on the number of people who visited Northampton, or more importantly those who have decided to vote with their feet and not visit the town in the first nine months of this financial year highlights not only the sheer incompetence of the Northampton Conservatives but also the continuing decline of the Town Centre.
Regular readers of my blogs will know that I have quite literally banged on about the declining footfall in the Town Centre and the economic impact on the businesses.
Readers will also know that the reaction from Cllr Mackintosh and his Conservative acolytes has varied from,
– Labour should stop talking the Town Down
– The footfall figures are not really important
– The town has bucked the trend in terms of economic recovery over the past two years,
…to the even more ludicrous excuse that,
– People don’t come to town because of the wet, cold, snow, ice or, in other words, it’s all the fault of global warming.
What I find incredible is that no-one from the media has picked up on the huge number of people who have, of their own volition; decided that Northampton is not the place they choose to visit either to shop or for leisure.
The data for the period April to December last year (2013) shows a drop in the number of visitors of 475,000 and incredibly a fall against the same period the year before of over 1.1 million visitors.
Just to put it into some kind of context Northampton Town Centre businesses have seen a drop in their potential customers of over 1.1 million visitors in the 2013 April to December period compared to two years ago and almost half a million compared with past year.
What is even more worrying for town centre retailers is that the fall in visitors, or should we say shoppers in the very important period October to December, the extremely important Christmas period compared to the year before was 11.5%.
So why do the Conservatives continue say the number of people who have decided to boycott Northampton isn’t important?
I don’t profess to speak for the retailers but a fall of 1.1 million fewer shoppers spending between £25 and £50 is a loss of income of between £27.5 million and £55 million to the local economy.
This to my mind, and that of most sensible people, makes it not only an important but absolutely essential issue.
Of course, while the Northampton Conservatives are ignoring the crisis of the further decline in footfall I would hazard a guess that potential inward investors will not only be well aware of the decline in numbers but will be taking it into account when considering where to invest.
In fact I will go put on a limb and say that if I was a member of the Legal and General investment team I’d be very reluctant to invest shareholders money to the tune of £250 million in the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre given the current situation.
In fact it is, as I have discussed before, in the Development Agreement that Legal and General can delay or withdraw if the extension is considered no longer economically viable, and considering that the fall of 1.1 million fewer visitors has happened in the period since May 2012 when they stopped work on the project how can the Conservatives not see the seriousness of the situation?
If it wasn’t economically viable in May 2012 it certainly isn’t now!
Add to that of course the argument put forward as part of their opposition to the Rushden Lakes Development that it would have a significant impact on the number of people visiting Northampton and the crisis is potentially even worse.
If the reduction in footfall is 1.1 million without Rushden Lakes imagine the impact if it is approved?
Perhaps if Cllr Mackintosh and Cllr Hadland had taken the falling footfall seriously and produced a business case for the opening up of Abington Street they might have reconsidered the decision to spend £6 million on the project.
They wouldn’t have, of course, because as it has become very clear that whatever the cost to the taxpayer in the future they are prepared to borrow millions of pounds to pay for their pet projects designed to do no more than give Cllr Mackintosh some rather nice looking photos for his electoral platform next year.
The reality is that the Conservatives policy of self-serving, self-interest self-promotion, pet projects at the expense of the Northampton taxpayer means that Cllr Mackintosh and Cllr Hadland don’t need to listen to the public or have well thought out business plans.
So Northampton has bucked the trend of declining Town centre footfall?
As for the Conservatives accusation that I am talking the town down by investigating and revealing the facts?
I’ll leave that to the reader to decide on.
Naturally, the Conservatives don’t want their incompetence in managing the regeneration of , Northampton to be revealed and, as we have seen in recent weeks and days, their attitude is either to ignore, bully and abuse those who challenge them and, when that doesn’t work, to walk out.
What the Conservatives are beginning to spin is that the number of visitors this year will meet or exceed their target of 14.36 million visitors.
What they aren’t, of course, saying is that they have reduced that number by over 1.1 million from the previous target of 15.49 million, which coincidentally is almost exactly the same figure as the decline in footfall over the past two years!
In effect the Northampton Conservatives, rather than address the crisis of falling visitors to the Town Centre, have chosen to cut the target in a pathetic and clumsy attempt to hide it.
It is a level of political deceit that has become all too common by Cllr Mackintosh and his friends who while the town is declining are happy to ensure that their own self-interest at the expense of the people and businesses of Northampton doesn’t suffer.
Deceit from ignorance may be forgiven; deceit by intentional omission is unforgivable and is what the Northampton Conservatives are practising.
The data is clear and demonstrate to anyone dealing with this already discredited administration whose integrity is being seriously questioned that the old adage of
Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics is all to true especially in the corridors of power at the Guildhall.