The fate of the high street and of St Ives town centre in particular, has been of concern to many, not least our local traders who see a declining footfall. The Town Team have recently conducted a survey to establish what can be done.
It is a ‘hot topic’ for the Government and it is clear that there is no single or simple solution. Just last week Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct and House of Fraser, claimed to a Parliament Select Committee that the high street is already dead. It seems inevitable that there will be many changes in the coming years, which may need to be quite radical if today’s high streets are to survive.
The very nature of town centres is being discussed and for some towns this could result in a total loss of shops. Smaller retailers are clearly under threat from the internet and the big national corporations which can afford the changes necessary to survive. Some towns are considering making their centres a place of entertainment and socialising, accepting that shop- ping is a thing of the past. St Ives is in a better position than many similar towns as it is a popular visitor destination.
Our famous Bridge, its river, meadows, museum and attractive Victorian buildings and streets are a significant draw. This will help the town centre to survive but a lot needs to be done if it is to have more than hairdressers, takeaways and cafes. It is therefore alarming and saddening that plans to invigorate the town centre have been thwarted by our local council and there seems little progress on the ‘Town’s Master Plan. Good news is that the Mountain Warehouse store has opened in this important central location.