St Ives folk should have their say
HUNTINGDONSHIRE District Council has set aside over £1million to improve Market Hill in the centre of St Ives (the road from Budgen to WH Smith) in spring 2010. The council has offered three options, including part-pedestrianisation with reduced parking,
HUNTINGDONSHIRE District Council has set aside over £1million to improve Market Hill in the centre of St Ives (the road from Budgen to WH Smith) in spring 2010.
The council has offered three options, including part-pedestrianisation with reduced parking, and has asked us all to comment by January 7. The council will then make its final decision. If not spent in Market Hill, the money will to go back into the council's overall pot and be used elsewhere in Huntingdonshire.
I think that this is a really important decision for St Ives. The next two or three years are likely to be a critical time for the town centre, as the recession bites. As a place to shop, eat and drink, we compete with neighbouring towns. The recession will hit traders hard, and we need to make sure that St Ives has an edge that attracts people here rather than to our competitor towns.
A vision for the town centre was produced some years ago, and I would like to see this updated in the first half of 2009, supported by surveys and focus groups with residents, traders, users and people who don't shop in St Ives but could.
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I'd also like to see us compare ourselves with other similar towns to see what improvements they have made and how well they worked. All future improvement proposals for the town centre should then be looked at in the context of the vision.
With the recession gaining ground fast, I feel that the vision and the first set of improvements can't wait until 2010. By then our traders could well be in serious financial difficulty, if we haven't already acted to make the town an even better place to live, shop and relax.
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Relatively minor changes, such as making the Cattle market car park (next to the bus station) short stay so that it's easier to park for just a few minutes, free shorter stay parking reserved for the disabled and parents with young children in Market Hill between 10am and 4pm, and improved signposting to point drivers to long, medium and short stay parking, could be introduced quickly if they fit with the results of the market research and with the updated town centre vision.
Meanwhile, I think that it's key that we all get our views on the proposed improvements to Market Hill to the district council by January 7. If we don't like the council's final decision but didn't tell them what we want, we have only ourselves to blame.
You can read about the proposed options and cast your vote by picking up the leaflet from St Ives library or the St Ives Recreation Centre, Rainbow Store, Costa or the Tap Room in St Ives. Or you can view the proposals on line by following the link from http://www.huntsdc.gov.uk, and fill in the questionnaire there or print it and return it by post. You can also comment by email to email@example.com
January 7 is getting very close, and this decision really matters.