Living in a Ghost Town? Take Action and Bring it Back to Life

Working with the community is an excellent way of making changes and getting things done. I recently signed up to support our local council and have been to several fascinating meetings to discuss proposed changes in our town centre. One of the main problems being faced by our business owners is the fact that there is very little parking available, and being on a steep hill many shoppers are choosing to go elsewhere to shop rather than park miles out and make the walk in.


PHOTO CREDITS: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23155134@N06/6384940989/

When our local council proposed increasing the cost of the local car park, which is too small as it is, we all clubbed together and created a petition to make sure the increases didn’t happen. We managed to win that battle amazingly thanks to a lot of support within the community.  We now have a new battle on our hands and that is to make all of the shops more accessible.

We Should Welcome People Not Turn them Away

It seems crazy to me that many people are excluding from shopping in our town centre simply because facilities aren’t there to accommodate them.  Our town is full of old people’s homes and supported living centres and so why do we not do more to help make shopping and enjoying our town easier for all of our residents? It just doesn’t make sense. We are looking for support from the council when it comes to making changes and altering shop entrances to make sure everyone is welcome inside.

By improving the access it is more likely that our struggling business owners will see an increase in revenue thanks to more shoppers being able to come in and shop. In the past a few of the shop owners had their planning permission denied when trying to improve access and so it felt like we were fighting a bit of a lost cause.

Taking Action!

All of the businesses in the town centre held a meeting and I was invited along. It was decided that experts needed to be called in to help the design process.  We found some consultants that would come in and look at what needed to be improved and help to come up with affordable solutions that were in line with the Equality Act. We believed that by using consultants and working together with the experts our chances of having the permission to go ahead and make the alterations would be more likely. We were right.

A consultant came and helped the businesses to learn exactly what improvements were necessary. Many of the shops had steps up to the door, some had very small doorways and others had cramped interiors. The consultant was able to tell the owners how to make approved alterations and worked closely with the builders and architects in some cases. The planning permission went through without a hitch, and I was able to show my support by using information from the Equality Act as well as data about the members of our community.

Being a tourist town it was even more important that we made the town centre as friendly to all people as possible. When there is already a hill to battle and poor parking the shops really do need to be extra welcoming to all. So far only a couple of shops have had the work completed and they have come back to the council informing them of the improved footfall coming through the doors. The papers and local community have all shown their appreciation for the hard work and word is getting round informing every one of the improved shopping facilities.

It is hoped that once the whole of the town centre has been improved the council will also work on improving the pathways in the park that are in desperate need of attention. With all the investment and effort going in perhaps our dying ghost town stands a chance of thriving once more.

If your shop needs improving one of the best first steps to take is reaching out to consultants and booking access audits.

Speak Your Mind

*

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free