I HAVE been following with interest the debate about whether parts of Market Hill in St Ives should be pedestrianised. Some local traders have written to The Hunts Post to say they believe that any reduction in parking in Market Hill would reduce their tr
I HAVE been following with interest the debate about whether parts of Market Hill in St Ives should be pedestrianised. Some local traders have written to The Hunts Post to say they believe that any reduction in parking in Market Hill would reduce their trade. By contrast, Helen Dye (August 6) said that, although a resident of Brampton, she prefers to shop in St Ives and what would secure her custom would be a safe, car-free public space.
I live just outside the town centre and use it every day, so the subject is close to my heart. I love the place, for its beauty, its wide range of independent shops, its cafés and pubs, and its friendly people. The question is how can we make it even better, so that its traders thrive and it's an even better place to shop and live?
What pulls in massive numbers of shoppers are the (car-free) weekly Monday market days in Market Hill. The Bank Holiday Monday markets, also car free, fill the town with huge numbers of people. This Monday effect not only gives the stalls and shops a thriving trade, but also fills the pubs and cafés. So we need the car-free market place proposed by the district council, and we need traffic-free markets not just on Mondays but every weekday, as we see in Cambridge. Could we not have an arts and crafts market on a Tuesday, musical entertainment on a Wednesday, and so on?
Supermarkets got the pedestrianisation message long ago, that what people want is readily available parking within a couple of hundred yards of the supermarket entrance, and then a traffic-free shopping experience in the supermarket itself. The huge Tesco at Bar Hill, selling everything under the sun, is of course entirely pedestrianised, alongside an extensive car park: vast numbers of people shop there, and are happy to walk two or three hundred yards from their parking space to the further end of the store.
St Ives is blessed with four car parks immediately around the town centre, three of them substantial in size, so I don't see why we have to have to dodge cars patrolling Market Hill in the (often vain) hope of finding a parking spot in the middle of this beautiful old town centre.
I say let's have cafés with tables spilling out into the street, let's have daily markets and entertainment, let's fulfil the town's potential to be a thriving, bustling market town and tourist attraction.
If it's what will make the town work better, let's have free parking in at least some of the car parks, as long as we can police them tightly to ensure that those who work in the town are parked in long-stay places a little further out to release places close to the shops for shoppers and the disabled. This would cost money, and we need to work out who would fund it.