Who is to blame for town-centre cash fiasco?

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I WAS very interested to read the two Letters from Chris Thorne in the latest editions of the Dispatch.

I also agree that it would go some way — but I think a long, long way — to improving the use of shops and other amenities in Hucknall if the parking charge were abolished and Tesco were stopped from expanding any more.

I, for one, would go into Hucknall town centre more instead of only when it’s necessary. Like three weeks ago when I needed to post a letter by recorded delivery, so I went to the Beauvale Post Office, where there is free parking. Why pay 40p for an hour in the town centre when I’m only going to be ten minutes? If parking had been free in Hucknall town centre, I would have used the main Hucknall Post Office, had a look round the shops and maybe spent a pound or two.

What confuses me is that Chris has asked four questions under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOI) and for some reason, Ashfield District Council has answered only two, even though it admits to having the data he requested on the other two. Why? Is the council hiding something?

Chris is not even allowed to publish the answers he was given because of some hide-behind copyright law! What is the point in having an FOI act if the information can’t be published?

Perhaps Chris could tell us the four questions he asked and which ones he got answered. That may shed some light. I might like to ask them myself or maybe the Dispatch could ask for us!

Did Ashfield Council tell him why it didn’t answer the two questions? Perhaps a member of Ashfield Council might like to enlighten us as to why some questions may be answered and some may not.

It’s not as if it’s a national security threat, is it? And we are the ones paying the parking charge, so we have a right to know the facts because the council is employed by us.

Yes, I did sign the parking-charges petition last Friday, even though it cost me 40p to park. It was money well spent.

Now we have another fiasco, according to last week’s Dispatch front page (‘Down The Drain’), which reported on how we have missed out on a chance of money to improve the town centre. Who is to blame?

Mary Portas recomended forming ‘town teams’ in May last year. Why did Hucknall not do it?

Brenda Shelbourne says it was too short notice. Hucknall Partnership Group received information about the fund, and it did not have time to set up a committee and decide a plan. Who was supposed to inform the group?

Mark Armstrong, who is town-centre manager for Hucknall, says 400 applications were made across the UK — of which two were from Sutton and Kirkby, says Coun John Wilmott (Lab). So why not Hucknall?

Only 12 towns have got the £100,000 boost and I am not sure Hucknall would have been one of them. But you have to be in it to win it, as they say. Odds of 401/1 are better than 400/1.

Mark Armstrong now says a bid is being made to “re-launch” Hucknall’s Friday market by reducing the Thursday night bargain stalls so that Friday’s market looks fully occupied! Less is more? You’re having a laugh! Let’s hire ‘Rent A Crowd’ to walk up and down High Street, so people passing through think we are a thriving town!

As a matter of interest, it was 2008, as Chris Thorne says, when Ashfield Council commissioned consultants URBED to do a study on Hucknall town centre. The same year Mark Armstrong was made town-centre manager.

ALAN BEST,

Watnall Road,

Hucknall.