Observer readers have given their reaction to a 13-point plan to boost Accrington town centre.
The plan, drawn up by Conservative town centre councillor Tony Dobson, calls for an extension to parking hours, discounts on council tax bills to residents who shop locally and more ‘substantial events’ to boost visitor numbers.
Other ideas on the plan include offering £10,000 loans to start-up businesses, demolishing ‘tired buildings’ to create more free parking, ‘clock and collect’ schemes and more inter-shop promotions.
Coun Dobson believes, if implemented, the plan will help bring more shoppers into the town centre.
He said: “We feel unless we do something positive in the next few years things won’t improve.”
But Labour councillors said many of the ideas including more promotional leaflets and free wi-fi are already happening.
Deputy council leader Clare Pritchard said: “We are doing the vast majority of them already so for anyone to try and claim credit on the back of what we are already doing is a bit churlish really. People are working really hard in the town centre.”
Andy Lund, owner of the Sweet Stall in the Market Hall, said traders would welcome any ideas that improve footfall.
He said: “The ideas put forward seem good to me and if they can put them into effect and bring people here then that would be fantastic.”
Observer readers posted their views about the 13-point plan on our Facebook page.
Dayle Taylor felt the plan was just covering up the cracks, adding: “People are choosing to shop elsewhere (supermarkets, internet) because it’s cheaper and more convenient for them, not because they feel that the town is rundown and has lack of wi-fi.”
Christopher Brindle said: “I think the days of high rent and rates are over – it’s time to work with fledgling enterprises to build a strong and unique town centre.
“The infrastructure is there – it’s the innovation, enterprise and support that’s needed.”
Lee Schofield felt parking enforcement was the problem.
He added: “If shops sold bespoke unique services or items they’d do ok but when you sell the same as big chains and it’s more expensive and parking’s poor where are you going to go?
“Parking should be two hours so you have time to shop but not dump your car if you’re too idle to walk if you work in the town.”
Andy Clegg said: “There simply isn’t the money in the pockets of local consumers to sustain this.”
John Blackburn said: “Get rid of the benefit population and one pound shops, try and attract some decent brands and customers.”
Councillor's list of ideas:
1. New town centre leaflets
2. Extending parking hours, possible deregulation on Saturdays
3. ‘Click and collect’ service especially in the Market Hall and possibly the town centre
4. Up to £10,000 loan for start-up businesses
5. Attract stores that don’t have any Pennine Lancashire footprint
6. Substantial events in the town centre
7. Demolition of tired buildings to create more free parking
8. More inter-shop promotions and promote a full-day trading policy
9. Simplify planning permission to turn abandoned shops on side streets into residential properties
10. Wi-fi Accrington town centre
11. Purchase of well-known franchise brands
12. Discount on your rates bill for shopping in Accrington
13. A full public consultation on the Pals tribute and redevelopment of Peel Street and the space in front of the town hall