LETTER: Development tax would revitalise town

Mansfield Market Place.
Mansfield Market Place.

I was interested to read Councillor Stewart Rickersey’s reply in relation to your article on November 8 ‘MP Criticises Controversial Market Plans’.

Coun Rickersey called Mansfield a ‘vibrant market town.’ Since the decline and closure of various industries both in and around Mansfield. i.e. the coal mines, hosiery, electrical, shoemaking, engineering etc, coupled with growth in lower paid wages and finally the introduction of an abundance of supermarkets surrounding Mansfield, the last place I would call ‘vibrant’ is Mansfield, old archive photos prove that point also.

I am not trying to downcry anyone who is making an effort to build up Mansfield, good luck to those people, they have my full support. On the other hand, false hype can be misleading.

I salute those people who continue to trade both in the Market Place on the stalls and the shops surrounding the market. The town in general is tired. New builds are forthcoming, but at a slow rate.

Funding is obviously the crucial factor, how to raise the capital to invest long term in the wellbeing of Mansfield.

Looking back at the wealth, both created and shared by what was then our forementioned industries, the majority of that hard-earned money was spent in Mansfield.

Times have changed and it’s obvious that the amount of local spending money has declined.

Perhaps a solution to the problem would be to impose a town development tax. The tax would be paid annually by all the surrounding supermarkets. The money collected would be pumped directly into the town centre on an annual basis.

A new committee introduced with no political bias, purely to oversee the restoration required.

Who knows, within ten to 15 years, the town centre may again look presentable and perhaps reintroduce an indoor market.

Anyone who has visited Norwich can see what can be done if the money is available. Hopefully such a transition may sway those shoppers who prefer to shop in Chesterfield, Newark or Nottingham to sample the delights of Mansfield once more.

I believe that a similar idea is already being looked at by Derby County Council. Perhaps Mansfield District Council should take note of their proposals and support them in their attempt to introduce the idea at national level.

I am sure the negotiating team, should the idea be approved at top level, will ensure that the tax be taken out of the healthy profits made by the supermarkets, rather than the easy option on increasing prices on the shelves.

Once again, should the idea be approved and the money start to roll in, perhaps a rent-free period might tempt new stall holders and a larger rent-free period to say a big thank you to those who have stayed faithful to the Mansfield shopper.

Dale Westwood

Forest Town