This week I visited Spencer’s Hardware in Warsop, which is due to close this month after more than 100 years in business.
It’s really sad to see it go as for many it’s part of the fabric of Warsop’s community.
It was disappointing to hear how they feel let down by local authorities, and I’ll make sure their views are heard in all of my discussions about Warsop.
I’ve been talking a lot about how we reinvigorate and revive our town centres, both Mansfield and Warsop, and combat the spread of empty shops.
Even the disappearance of UKIP’s shop on Church Street near my office is a sad sight simply because it’s one more empty property in the town centre.
I’m determined to bring together those partners who can influence this, to try and have a positive impact. We need to recognise that for both Mansfield and Warsop town centres there has to be an overarching vision of what we want the town to be.
It’s no good just to sit back and say high streets are failing everywhere, or to try and do more of the same in the hope that one day it might work. We need to change our tactics and change what’s on offer in our towns to attract the customers and businesses back.
There are lots of positive things happening. More than 14,000 people attended the Party on the Market event last month and it just proves that success is possible; the town can be a busy and bustling place when the offer is right. That said I don’t feel like currently there is a plan for our towns.
Lots of individual success stories don’t lead to major growth and regeneration if there isn’t a common end goal, and if they aren’t all aimed at achieving the same broader outcome.
We need to decide what we want to be, and how we are going to get there. We need to get that down on paper, along with all of the projects and the steps we need to take along the way.
We need to have plans ready on the shelf waiting so that when funding is made available we can dive right in with something that’s ready to go, and snap up that investment to help us reach our goals.
I’ll be pushing those involved to get together with me and come up with that plan, the vision for what the town centre should be in 20 years time, so that we can all be working together to achieve it.