OCCASIONALLY, I go to Arnold and on my most recent visit, I couldn’t help but compare it to Hucknall.
Gedling Borough Council introduced parking charges last year and, as expected, there were many complaints from shoppers.
The councillors listened and, together with their clever accountants, they worked out that if they allowed two hours’ free parking, this would be offset by retaining business-tax revenue from the small businesses, some of which may have ceased trading if their customers stopped shopping at Arnold.
Vision and enterprise are clearly being actively encouraged in Arnold by direct positive action, rather than just talking and blaming Internet shopping.
Internet shopping has changed the high streets, and the clock cannot be turned back. But many people still prefer to try clothes and shoes on instead of ordering online and having to arrange for the return of unsuitable items. Bon Marche decided that Arnold was a place that was worth continuing to trade in.
Arnold has its share of charity shops and some empty units. But it also has a wide range of shops, a reasonable market, a large Wilkinson store at one end of the high street and an Asda supermarket at the other end.
I think this is the key advantage that Arnold has over Hucknall. Everything is pretty much on one street and not a 15-minute walk or longer from an edge-of-town supermarket. Shoppers can walk along the street, spend at small businesses, stop for a cuppa and then go to the supermarket. Easy peasy.
I went to Kirkby on Monday last week and parked at Morrison’s, where parking time has been extended to three hours, so I had time to explore Kirkby town centre.
There are some nice shops, including a factory shop which sells clothes and shoes for all the family, but also lots of empty units. It will be interesting to see if the close proximity to the town of Morrison’s brings about a regeneration of KIrkby.
I know that the Co-op used to occupy the site where Morrison’s is located but it’s easy to see that many more people are shopping there.
Don’t bother with expensive consultants. Talk to shoppers, visit other towns nearby and then act before the tumbleweed takes over Hucknall High Street.