Strategy will help shape town centre's future

PUBLISHED: 12:39 05 July 2007 | UPDATED: 15:10 12 May 2010

WE have become concerned at the amount of adverse publicity being given to Royston town centre in your recent issues, including many letters from readers. If there is one way to discourage visitors to the town centre, surely it is to tell them repeatedly

WE have become concerned at the amount of adverse publicity being given to Royston town centre in your recent issues, including many letters from readers.

If there is one way to discourage visitors to the town centre, surely it is to tell them repeatedly that it is on its last legs.

The Crow has long been a champion of the town and it must hurt you to have to be the bearer of doom and gloom.

So well done to Christine Scholfield who has been the only person in the last two weeks who has had enough enterprise to remind us of the town's many and varied businesses which are eager for custom.

It's also a bit tiresome that in searching for someone to blame for the perceived problems, people point to North Herts District Council.

Through our investment in the Town Centre Partnership we are helping to promote the town centre, events in the town, supporting companies wanting to move in, and helping retailers to help themselves.

We are committed to promoting both the economy and the historic environments of our town centres.

A dialogue is already in hand with the Royston & District Chamber of Commerce and we are together looking at a number of positive initiatives which are designed to benefit the town.

It is dialogue like this which will provide the way forward, not a drip-drip of complaints.

However, the council cannot change trends in people's shopping habits, which across the country are tending towards out of town or internet shopping, often in the evenings and at weekends.

Nor can the council affect competition from the bigger centres.

As we have said before, parking charges are a red herring. In Royston and North Herts they are lower than Cambridge, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and other major centres.

Yet we still go to those places, and spend even more in fuel getting there, when we need their facilities.

One correspondent mentions Buntingford, but we doubt whether anyone outside Buntingford travels there for the free parking - certainly no-one from Royston would spend the extra time and petrol just to save 50p on the car park.

But you might travel to Buntingford if there was a specialist shop there which offered something you wanted and which you could not get in Royston.

This autumn we will launch our town centre strategy for Royston, when we will be asking residents how they would like to see the town centre develop in the long term, over the next 10-20 years.

We are just completing such a consultation in Baldock, where businesses really have had to struggle following the opening of the bypass. We will not on our own draw businesses in, but there are things that can be done with the full co-operation of businesses and the support of the public, both in Royston as in Baldock, to make the centres more attractive and further improve the feel of the place for people who live, work and visit there.

Cllr RICHARD THAKE

Portfolio Holder, Planning and transport

Cllr TRICIA GIBBS

Portfolio Holder, Community engagement

North Herts District Council

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