Walking into Kirkby the other day, I couldn’t help being struck by the impression that it is a town without a real town centre.
Kirkby has 12,000 homes and around 20,000 people yet if I want to buy a book or a CD/DVD I have to travel to Nottingham or go online.
If I want to go out for a civilised meal and drinks or a night out, then Kirkby is quite simply a no go area and Nottingham once again cashes in on the Kirkby pound.
The once proud Festival Hall is now outdated, the police station closed and parts of Kirkby precinct an embarrassment that does nothing to dispel views of a town that is failing.
Try buying all your Christmas presents in Kirkby and you will either fail miserably or be left with presents which will do nothing but disappoint.
That, for me, is both, sad and unacceptable.
Those who don’t live in Kirkby no doubt look at the place as somewhere that can never thrive and somewhere that can never achieve. Those of us who live in Kirkby know it is a town with unfulfilled potential.
Family-run shops around the town do their best to make a living under very different trading circumstances, offering excellent value for money whether it is a sandwich shop, cafe, bakers, hairdressers or a flower shop.
The other week I got a haircut and two bacon butties (I’m not fat, one was for my wife) and still had change from my tenner. That’s pretty decent value in my book.
The closure of the coalmining industry decimated the town and wider area as we all know, but times are different now and Kirkby is slowly starting to take off.
The new Bovis Homes and Persimmon Homes development has helped bring hundreds of new high-income families to the area, the controversial Mowlands project promises to do just the same.
If this cash is to stay in the local economy it is vital that the town centre moves with the times and modernises to offer people the services and facilities they need.
The proposed revamp of Kirkby Precinct is something that must happen sooner rather than later and must be done right.
A burger van, a disused car park, a few shabby market stalls and a bookies surrounding the proud statue of cricket legend Harold Larwood does nothing for the town’s image and does nothing to bring new shoppers in.
National chains need to be attracted into Kirkby to build on the momentum created by the new Morissons and Whetherspoons.
Imagine if the extended precinct boasted a small Primark, a Wilkinsons, an Argos and, dare I say it, even a Costa Coffee.
Without doubt this would create additional jobs, boost the town’s economy, give civic pride a vital lift and prevent us Kirkby residents having to travel further afield to buy a new outfit for the weekend or every day items like a new shower curtain or a toaster.
Grandiose schemes like building a new leisure centre or swimming pool is perhaps pie in the sky, but step by step Kirkby can put the building blocks in place to start living up to its full potential.
Kirkby can do better and the residents certainly deserve a better place to live.