It is time to grasp the nettle and avoid a bleak future

PUBLISHED: 14:18 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 11 May 2010

I HAVE followed the rather depressing series of letters in The Crow about the condition of the town centre and proposed solutions to the perceived problem. In my opinion, the root causes of the degeneration of the area are being misrepresented. The ar

I HAVE followed the rather depressing series of letters in The Crow about the "condition" of the town centre and proposed solutions to the perceived problem.

In my opinion, the root causes of the degeneration of the area are being misrepresented.

The area has become run down not because of Tesco or as a result in the hike in parking charges.

Tesco, it should be remembered, offer a source of competitively priced products not only to the residents of Royston, but also to a much wider catchment area. Increased parking charges are not a reason for people to abandon the town centre.

No, the problem is that people do not have the will or the enticement to spend their hard-earned cash in the area.

It is the marketing of the area that is partially to blame, coupled with the fact that the population growth in recent years can only be satisfied by a wider selection of retail and leisure outlets than the town currently provides.

As I see it there are two solutions that should be considered.

# There is a need for more outlets that are used on a daily basis. This need could be satisfied by a new out of town shopping area with adequate parking facilities and a town bus link from the town centre and Tesco so linking the three main retail outlet areas.

# The second solution relates to the town centre. It might be appropriate for this area to develop a niche market to satisfy the increasing requirement for leisure such as restaurants and bars.

This has been accomplished to a large extent in Baldock and certain areas of Hitchin.

Before arms are thrown up in horror let me point out that policing a relatively small area would be easier and such an area would be used by a much larger cross-section of the public than at present.

More of the same is not going to work.

What is needed is some serious thinking out of the box that will turn Royston into a must-go rather than a no-go place.

I am not a resident of Royston and only make the occasional foray into the town. Why? Because I can find a more comfortable and rewarding environment for my retail and leisure needs than is ­currently on offer in Royston.

Biggleswade is perhaps a good example of a town where change has been incorporated in the redevelopment of the town centre, but by contrast this has been accomplished alongside the introduction of a major retail store as the centrepiece and magnet for the area.

How different is the situation in Royston. So come on all you good people of Royston. Find ways to bring your attractive historical town into the 21st century.

If Royston were a similar sized town in rural France, no doubt the issues of superstores and parking charges would not arise, but it is not, and the town has to play the hand it is dealt.

If the nettle is not grasped then the future of Royston town centre is bleak indeed and it will not be the fault of either Tesco or parking charges.

BRIAN SPALL

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