We must seize this chance

PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:55 11 May 2010

The devastating economic events that have overtaken this country over the last four weeks have opened a new chapter to the way in which we live, and how High Street companies pursue their business. It has forced us to realise that we have all been living

The devastating economic events that have overtaken this country over the last four weeks have opened a new chapter to the way in which we live, and how High Street companies pursue their business.

It has forced us to realise that we have all been living in a misguided fools paradise for the last decade.

The exposure of so many companies about to collapse should be a wake-up call to others to ensure that their house is in order.

Worst hit areas will, initially, be the small towns like Royston, Baldock, and Buntingford, where independent small businesses will acutely suffer due to the banks' reluctance to extend their overdraft facilities, or to even rein in their current borrowing.

Royston's problems commenced when the district council allowed Tesco to launch their new store on the periphery of the community.

Have the retailers down in the High Street taken sufficient action to bring themselves into the 21st century? We have witnessed an acute decline of small businesses in Royston, resulting in a lot of empty units. The situation is poised to worsen in the next year unless immediate remedial measures are put into place.

The situation has not been helped by the district council, whose actions have scared off thousands of potential shoppers, and tight restrictions regarding parking in general.

However, the town has now had a life-line to its rescue in the form of the Royston First BID scheme, and much work has already been conducted behind the scenes.

A change in parking policy on the High Street has already assisted in a more relaxed approach to attracting more punters into town.

The Royston Town Centre Forum and the Town Centre manager have rebranded the weekly market, in an effort to attract new traders. But they can only do so much in stimulating new blood. It is also down to the independent sector to assist itself.

When I was chairman of the Saffron Walden retailers association, we marketed the town as a vast departmental store. The result was, and still is, a vibrant and exciting town.

All of our stores should be open on a Thursday afternoon. Perhaps even a late shopping night is required.

This month the Co-Op completes its takeover of the Somerfield chain. What it intends to do with the Royston store still very unclear.

I implore all small businesses in Royston to back the BID. If small businesses resist this help all will be lost, and another important segment of our fast disappearing heritage will be erased.

Clive Porter Melbourn

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