Who can save Hertford Town Centre? Local Government or the Supermarket Giants

Submitted on Thu, 16/07/2009 - 4:27pm

Retail Week recently reported that Hertford Town Centre has become the tenth most affected town centre by the recession in the UK. The article paints a depressing picture of the county town; only a few years ago Channel Four rated East Hertfordshire in the top ten places to live in the UK.

The recession undoubtedly has hit Hertford Town Centre hard, the empty shops have become a depressing site. According to Retail Week, visits to the local JobCentre have doubled since December. Hertfordshire Mercury reported last Friday that Tesco has made a massive u-turn on plans for the local store and wanted to extend the store instead of rebuilding it. Sainsbury's proposed plans for developing the McMullen's site was agreed in January 2009, but still may face further enquiries. As our county town falls further into the recession, can we afford to object to supermarket developments?

The new proposed Tesco expansion would create 30 jobs, whilst the Sainsbury development at the McMullens site would create 400 jobs. These jobs will greatly help unemployed local people, but critics argue at what cost to the town? Is there a viable alternative?

Local councils can be extremely influential in recessions and can help stimulate business in town centres. Even though providing support for businesses falls under the remit of East Herts Council, Town Councils can still be extremely influential. Some Councils have frozen Council Tax in response to the recession, such as Halewood Town Council. Hertford Town Council has done a fantastic job in providing local events for the town and now we look to them to assist the town centre through the recession. It would be great if Hertford Town Council could also freeze council tax and improve public spending efficiency. In 2007/2008 they spent over 20% of their budget on adminstration, is this really necessary? Cutting back on inefficient bureaucracy could open up funds for community grants/schemes.

Tendering District Council website states how local government can improve town centres. Their ideas include free/subsidized parking in Town Centres, indoor markets and short-term leases for shops. Would these plans improve business in Hertford?

In difficult times we look up to our elected representatives in local councils for assistance and guidance. We hope that local government will be able to make an impact big enough to bring back Hertford Town Centre to its former reputation.

East Herts Council have produced a factsheet on recession busting tips, read it here

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