Facebook campaign to bring shops to St Neots
A MOTHER of two has started a Facebook campaign to attract a wider range of shops to St Neots. Emma Speed has received more than 500 responses on the social networking site from fellow residents backing her campaign. The 26-year-old, who has lived in St N
A MOTHER of two has started a Facebook campaign to attract a wider range of shops to St Neots.
Emma Speed has received more than 500 responses on the social networking site from fellow residents backing her campaign.
The 26-year-old, who has lived in St Neots all her life, said she walks past empty shops in the High Street every day on her way to her job as supervisor at Somerfield.
She said the town has mostly estate agents, charity shops, hairdressers and takeaways and no men's or children's clothes stores, which all average families need.
"That is what led me to start my campaign," she said. "When I was a child we could buy most things we needed from St Neots.
"The town was a vibrant community, full of familiar shops, offering a variety of goods. We want to see shops that the local community find useful."
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St Neots resident Christine Sadler wrote on Facebook: "The town is dying, no shops to speak of, only banks, places to eat, card shops. I just don't bother going to St Neots anymore.
"We are the largest town in Cambridgeshire but we are just forgotten by the councils. All they want is more houses."
The town's mayor Gordon Thorpe was sympathetic.
He said a recent survey found it was good for convenience shopping such as food stores but lacked comparison shopping such as white goods and fashion.
Cllr Thorpe said: "Our problem is we don't have any large spaces in the centre of town. When brownfield sites have come up they have gone for housing because of central Government policy. Large stores like Debenhams would need much bigger floor space."
He said St Neots is an ancient town with listed buildings which limits what the council can do.
Residents who responded to the Facebook campaign point out Huntingdon's progress.
Cllr Thorpe said when St Neots expands east of the railway station in the Loves Farm and Wintringham Farm areas it could attract bigger stores.
He said: "There are plans for 2,500 to 4,000 homes and 900 sq metres of retail development and employment.
"Between now and 2026 the population of St Neots will also go up by 10,000 that should be big enough to attract bigger stores. We need to ensure not to take trade away from the town centre, so we're looking at ways of linking the two shopping areas.