LETTER: Time for Nelson people to get behind their town

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Two anonymous letters in your edition of July 22nd again focused on Nelson town centre.

“Experienced Driver” reported on his or her difficulties in parking in the new bays. Reversing into a parking bay, or parallel parking as it is known, is nowadays part of the driving test and every driver should be able to carry out this manoeuvre simply and safely. There is plenty of advice available on the internet or in libraries for anyone feeling they need to improve their skills in this respect. The bays are in fact slightly more generous than the standards laid down by the Government, and all that is needed is a little practice and perhaps patience from other drivers waiting behind. Failing this, there are many other parking spaces in and around the town centre, including of course the large multi-storey car park at Pendle Rise. Short stay parking is free throughout Nelson.

“Disillusioned Nelsoner” writes (again) to criticise the town. There is no doubt times have been difficult recently for many town centres, and Nelson is not alone in suffering from the changes in the way people shop and the lack of money in the economy at the present time. There are things Pendle Council can do about this, and things it can’t. No one has ever promised there are new stores coming to Nelson, as “Disillusioned Nelsoner” writes. The council cannot force retailers to come and does not have the resources to pay them to come. What the council can do is provide some of the conditions that will make the town attractive to retailers, who obviously will want their stores to be where there are plenty of shoppers, with plenty of money to spend.

That is why the council secured money from the North West Development Agency and European Regional Development Fund to carry out the current street works, which are opening up the town centre and making it into a really pleasant environment which people will enjoy visiting. Projects like the ACE Centre, Number One Market Street, Inside Spa at Wavelengths, and the new Bus/Rail Interchange are all aimed at bringing the town into the 21st Century and providing an attractive environment that will bring more people into town. The remarkable new sculpture – the Shuttle – will also bring people in and give local people plenty to talk about too!

Similarly, the housing improvement work that has been taking place in Whitefield and Bradley is all aimed at making Nelson a better place to live, and projects like the youth facilities at the Bradley hub are contributing to the regeneration of the town. Anyone passing through the town from Manchester Road and on up Leeds Road can certainly see the improvements of the last five years.

So, yes, conditions are challenging for the town, but the council is doing all it can to meet those challenges. Some retailers have gone, but others have arrived – the former Woolworth’s premises is now fully occupied, for instance, and we have high hopes the new agents for Pendle Rise will be able to attract further new retailers into the centre over the next few months.

What is needed now is for local people to get behind the town centre and support the retailers who have given the town their loyal support, as well as the new stores, as and when they arrive.

The imminent reopening of the town centre “High Street” scheme gives us the opportunity of raising the profile of the own, so let’s all do what we can to talk the town up, not down!

BRIAN COOKSON

Executive Director (Regeneration),

Pendle Council