There must be another way
PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010
I can understand the reactions of Letchworth traders at NHDC s plan to charge for putting out tables, chairs and even A-boards outside their premises. I share their disappointment and even anger at this initiative and I wonder whether enough thought and l
I can understand the reactions of Letchworth traders at NHDC's plan to charge for putting out tables, chairs and even A-boards outside their premises. I share their disappointment and even anger at this initiative and I wonder whether enough thought and logic was used in coming to their decision.
As William Armitage pointed out in your article, we are fortunate in our Garden City to have lovely wide pavements in our town. These lend themselves to embellishment with whatever feature the trader might think fit and which might draw in customers. This, after all, is surely one of the aims in running a business! With all the other methods of shopping presented to us these days it is even more important that traders offer the customer goods and services which are on hand and easy to see. Towns are literally dying all over the country, which is a sad state of affairs for those of us who remember the vibrant, bustling life of our towns not so very many years ago.
NHDC seems, presumably in its efforts to bring in revenue, to have forgotten another major factor in attracting people to a shopping centre. In a nutshell it is atmosphere, and this can only be achieved by creating something different, something which catches the eye and makes a passer-by stop and look. Anyone who has been on the continent will, I am sure, recall with delight the appeal of little shops and cafes, spilling over the walkway and cajoling the undecided customer to come and buy or sit and sip a coffee. The Heritage Foundation has great plans for future development in our town and I feel sure that the idea of a café culture appears in their plans. It would be such a pity if the retailers and café owners who might be thinking of setting up in Letchworth are deterred by an unnecessary charge for using part of the pavement.
NHDC has argued that its plans are to avoid proliferation and the displays could be unsightly, inconvenient and even dangerous. I would counter this by suggesting that, as in other areas where control is deemed advisable, a watch might be kept to ensure that this does not become a problem (perhaps in the remit of the town centre manager?). Shopkeepers I am sure would wish to be in harmony with the area and open to compromise should this be necessary. As for the danger aspect, because we have such wide pavements, providing street furniture does not take more than half of the pavement then adequate access is available for everyone.
We do not want Letchworth Garden City town centre to become a boring string of unexciting shops; we want a vibrant, bustling environment where shopping is not a chore but a delight. I would urge NHDC to think again - I am sure, as the advert says there is another way!
* Another nail in the coffin for Letchworth!! What is NHDC thinking of - certainly not for the benefit of the town and shop owners but for lining its own pockets?
I was furious to read in last week's Comet the intention to charge local shop owners anything up to £1,000 for a licence to display items outside their shops - surely the pavements are wide enough to incorporate both sensible displays and the public without it being a safety hazard as mentioned? It is part of Letchworth's unique character - the shopkeepers are struggling enough trying to make a living and this would make life even more difficult. Congratulations to the bright spark who came up with this brilliant idea!!
We moved to Letchworth three years ago from Kent as we fell in love with the area when passing through and in that time we have seen the decline of the town with at least 10 shops closing down due to the increase in rent. It now appears that you are not content with just strangling the unique and lovely area of Letchworth - you will not be happy until you have killed it off altogether.
I personally love Letchworth and am proud to show family and friends around as it is now, I do realise that we have to progress but in so doing I hope the new Letchworth will retain some of the unique qualities it now has.
MARION ALBON, Hillshott, Letchworth GC
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