WE write in response to the article ‘We’ve too many town takeways’ published on August 29.
We own a well established independent shop [Just Cards and Thorntons] in Bridge Street, St Ives, and are concerned at the direction the town centre has taken in recent years. The general economic climate has seen a steady decline in footfall in the town (despite what some others may say) and we have seen a fall off in our customer numbers since around August 2010.
Not many years ago St Ives was a shopping destination for many brought to the town by the high level of independent, and in many cases niche market, retailers. Unfortunately we have seen quite a number of independent retailers close in recent years, and we wonder how much longer a number of other retail outlets in the town will survive.
There is no doubt there are too many takeaways, beauty/nail salons, hairdressers and charity shops in St Ives. We feel that the planning authorities should take pro-active and significant steps to ensure empty premises are taken up by retailers the town actually needs. The long-term economic viability and vitality of any town can only be fostered by a good mix of retail premises, so we urge the planners to do something about it.
In addition we're not convinced the Busway is proving to have a positive impact on retailers in St Ives, despite the 'spin' in our local press. We fear it may be taking more potential customers out of the town than it actually brings in.
Another significant problem in the town is parking. All too often cars and vans are illegally parked for hours on end in short-term parking and pedestrian areas. Unfortunately this is not policed efficiently, resulting in a free-for-all and lack of available spaces. Charges in public car parks in St Ives have risen significantly in recent years and are currently ridiculously high. Perhaps a reduction in the cost would encourage more drivers to use the public car parks and consequently an increase in footfall in the town.
Having said all the above, we have seen a slight up-turn in business in the last few months despite the generally poor summer weather. This is encouraging, and long may it continue. How much of this is due to the feel-good factor created by the Jubilee and Olympics we can't say, but it may have something to do with the economic doom and gloom stories being relegated from front pages of the press.
Tom & Maureen O'Connell