Published at 07:43, Wednesday, 20 February 2013
CAN I make four points in response to your report on retail decline (Courant, February 8)?
1. It’s not due to superstores. Hexham’s decline pre-dates the arrival of Tesco by many years. Consider the success of, say, Ludlow in Shropshire, a similar small, rural, historic town bulging with great shops and market stalls – and a huge Tesco.
2. Hexham still doesn’t make the most of its assets. People love markets in historic settings, but the old Tynedale District Council allowed the regular market to deteriorate and it has not fully recovered.
3. Hexham has a reputation, which sadly is deserved, for high prices for a wide range of goods and services. The most notorious example was the former Safeway store which charged higher prices in Hexham than at its store in Consett – and drove shoppers away from the town.
4. Hexham suffers from a geographical problem: more of the shoppers who park down at Wentworth have to be attracted up into the town centre. Years ago someone suggested building a cable car or similar device to encourage them.
The idea was laughed at but I rather think that something dramatic and imaginative is needed to turn a drawback into an asset – the kids would love it.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk