Posts Tagged ‘retail’

Empty retail North Street Guildford revisited

December 8, 2022

Empty retail North Street Guildford. A photo survey of North Street last year. A year on it is worse.

Guildford has a BID. For perverse reasons only known to themselves they illegally fly post empty shop windows to highlight they are empty.

For good measure a rare sighting of unlicensed unregulated BID private security.

North Street runs parallel to the High Street. The connecting side streets have many empty retail units

#Guildford #BID #ExperienceGuildford


Guildford High Street empty shops revisited

November 30, 2022

A year ago I carried out a photo survey of the empty shops in Guildford High Street. I was shocked by what I found.

High Street Guildford early afternoon mid-week end of November

Today, one year on, I repeated the survey. It has got worse.

Retailers I spoke to confirmed what I was seeing, yes, it has got worse since last year.

This is not at the level of Aldershot, but no other town centre I have visited over the last year has this number of empty shops, with the exception of Retford and Market Rasen. It only serves to highlight the failure of Experience Guildford and why it must be wound up.

I only noted from just below Quarry Street to Jeffries Passage. Had I wandered further up the High Street where I rarely venture, I would have found many more empty shops.

Guildford has a local BID.

If this is what BID success looks like, I hate to think what failure looks like.

BIDs are destroying local businesses across the country, unaccountable Experience Guildford is no exception.

Catastrophic collapse of retail in Brighton

July 22, 2019

North Laine in Brighton is always busy, no closed shops. Yes businesses close, but a steady turnover, not empty retail units.

Three weeks ago I was shocked at the number of empty retail premises. Two weeks later, ie a week ago, I was further shocked to find not only closed, but many more closing.

A week ago Vinyl Revolution celebrated two years in business by closing.

I paid a visit last week, unfortunately they were already closed.

I was shocked to find The Lanes far far worse than the North Laine in terms of retailers closed.

Duke Street where Vinyl Revolution was located nearly half the shops closed and boarded up, graffiti covered shutters, a sea of To Let Boards as look down the street.

I passed by a new retail development, a row of empty shops, not a single one let, and it is difficult to see they ever will be let when so much retail space sitting empty.

It is difficult to understand why Vinyl Revolution has closed, as their video describes a thriving business, which is why I wished to talk to them.

To blame Brexit is nonsense, equally to blame rail works.

Duke Street was the wrong location. Comments on Brighton Argus echo this.

I never visited therefore cannot comment on their stock, but comments on Brighton Argus describe the stock as crap.

Resident in North Laine an excellent music shop always busy and has in recent years expanded.

If I wanted second-hand vinyl I would visit Ben’s Records in Tunsgate in Guildford. Then pop next door to Krema for a coffee.

Not that I would wish to buy second-hand vinyl as rarely in pristine condition, no guarantee of the condition and highly unlikely to have been played on top end equipment, and equally unlikely anyone with top end equipment would part with their vinyl.

In Resident, new releases always displayed with a limited pressing high quality vinyl.

But even Ben’s Records is struggling.

It is not helped when Market Street and surrounding pedestrianised streets in The Lanes, that pedestrianised is ignored, vehicles parked, vehicles drive through using as short cut, Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs ride motor scooters through at speed weaving in and out of pedestrians.

Sat outside a coffee shop in The Lanes last week a Ford truck parked outside, engine running, whilst driver having a chat with a passer by.

I have more than once narrowly missed being run down by Uber Eats and Deliveroo serfs, usually learners displaying L plates. Are they insured to carry out business?

Deliveries to the area, and what I observed were not deliveries, should park outside the pedestrianised areas, deliver using hand cart or trolley. The norm in Europe. The Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should be required to park in designated zones and walk through, walk through with crash helmets removed.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should not only be fined for riding through a pedestrianised aream they should be charged with dangerous driving. Sooner or later a child or elderly person will be knocked down and seriously injured. Deliveroo and Uber Eats should terminate their contracts.

Reputable businesses should not be employing Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And it is not only the exploitation and less than minimum wage. If food is ordered to be delivered, it is killing footfall.

There needs to be enforcement by the City Council.

When retail collapse occurs it can happen very fast, as we are now seeing in North Laine and The Lanes. One retailer closes, one less reason to visit the area. At least 10% will always be on the edge, the small loss in footfall sufficient to push them over the edge. Now even less reason to visit. More retailers pushed over the edge.

Businesses I have talked to are worried. They say as businesses around them close, they become isolated, fewer people in the street. Others tell me it is now tough.

What can local government and national government do to support small business? These are the businesses that bring people in, who circulate money within the local economy, who provide local character, who provide a reason to visit Brighton.

Please sign and share the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

Why is Independent retail being left to die?

July 9, 2019

Our town centres are not dying, they are being destroyed. Destroyed by greedy landlords and profiteering developers, Big Businesses offshoring its money in tax havens, local Town Halls where corrupt planners are in the pocket of greedy developers and Big Business, where planners and councillors are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning and how local economies function.

I love to visit Brighton.

Train to Gatwick, then to Brighton, but what a bloody pain when rail works, I have learnt do not even try.

When I arrive, I head straight down to the sea and walk along along the seafront, or head into North Laine and the seafront later. In the evening maybe take a walk along the Pier.

In North Laine, spoilt for choice. Excellent coffee shops, Coffee at 33, Pelicano, Dough Lover. Magazine Brighton where can pick up excellent magazines like Drift, Ambrosia, Standart. Infinity Foods or Hisbe for food supplies. Lunch at Iydea or Infinity Foods Kitchen. I always pop in Resident to see what is new.

What is great about North Laine, three long streets, little side streets, is that it is a Mecca of little shops, independent businesses. And not a corporate chain in sight

What though shocked me on a recent visit at the end of June, was the number of empty shops. I had not been in Brighton since last year, more than six months ago. Yes there has always been turnover, shops change, but not empty shops.

Earlier this year I was on a train from Lincoln to Nottingham in the company of three Dutch guys. They were heading to Nottingham for the football. Me, I was heading to some excellent coffee shops.

They asked me why all our towns were the same. The same crap corporate chains selling the same identical crap.

They told me that in Holland they had learnt. The corporate chains had gone, you can buy that crap on-line, to be replaced by individual local shops, coffee shops, little restaurants, in other words what makes North Laine so popular with visitors..

That is what I like in Europe, all the little shops, not corporate chains. Another big plus is that these areas are pedestrianised.

Why would anyone visit a town for the same crap chains that are in every other town?

Once I found myself in the Churchill Shopping Centre in Brighton. It was as though I had entered Dante’s Inferno, a retail version of hell, there should have been a big sign, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

In Nottingham, I find excellent little coffee shops, Cobden Chambers, a little courtyard through a gate, where is located a zero wast store, indie record shop, Ideas on Paper (Nottingham’s answer to Magazine Brighton).

It is down the little sideways and allies that we find the independent businesses.

In York the quaint side streets.

It is quirky indie businesses that give the sense of place, character, that recycle money within the local economy.

Corporate chains destroy our towns, they make everywhere look ugly, no character, drain money out of the local economy to offshore in a tax haven. Boots, Starbucks, avoid tax.

Government is at fault but indirectly in failing to deal with tax dodging and pushing austerity which has left people with no spending money.

Greedy rogue landlords are a major problem. They fail to honour their repair obligations, hike rents which do not reflect the prevailing retail environment. They would rather see an empty shop and offset against tax than lower the rent.

In Winchester an excellent coffee shop Flat Whites has recently closed, landlord issues.

Where the fault lies is local Town Halls. Corrupt planners get into bed with greedy developers and Big Business, the planners are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function.

Also to blame are local tourism bodies and business enterprise zones.

In Lincoln, Sincil Street, similar street scene to North Laine, ruins parallel to the High Street. Once a thriving street of indie businesses. Between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon the street was busy. Local Coop bought up the street, drove out the local businesses, brought in crap chains, the same crap chains can be found in every ghastly shopping centre across the country.

Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG then hyped these chains. Visit Lincoln even took them on board as partners. The head of Visit Lincoln bragged how she took a visitor to Lincoln to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and Cosy Club.  Cosy Club a chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake.

Visit Guildford promotes corporate chains, as does Enterprise Guildford.

Visit Lincoln goes overboard to hype chains. When asked why were they promoting 200 Degrees a small coffee chain when Lincoln has two excellent independent coffee shops, the answer was if they pay us we will.

It is not only Vinyl Revolution who are suffering, small businesses across the land are struggling. Unlike corporate chains they care about the local community where they live and work, often they are the backbone, and yet, look at any so-called town centre regeneration, it will brag about the corporate chains that are being brought in, often with low rents and nearly always to the detriment of indie businesses who are driven to the margins, assuming not actually driven out of business, rarely if every get a  mention of the small businesses and where new retail development takes place it is ugly, it is filled with the same crap corporate chains as every other ugly retail development.

An example of this is the recently opened Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre in Guildford, a handful of chains, boarded-up retail units, the only time people are seen is when it is raining and it provides a convention shortcut between the High Street and Castle Street and that is despite being hyped by Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford.

Do not drink the disgusting coffee in  a corporate chain, find an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic. Ask, and they will tell you other coffee shops to try. In Brighton it is even easier,  pick up a copy of The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

I would never dream of buying in HMV, and it was no great loss when it went into administration.

But if I find myself in Guildford, I pop into Ben’s Records. He knows his customers, what they like. But even a shop like Ben’s is suffering.

Several years ago I found Brighton Books open. I heard interesting music playing. I queried what it was. Try Resident, it is the only place you will find it. I looked and could not find. I asked, they went straight to where it was and handed me a copy.

Sadly Brighton Books is one of indie businesses that has recently closed in North Laine.

Please sign the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

M&S Aldershot to close

June 23, 2015

M&S Aldershot  to close

M&S Aldershot to close

Marks & Spencer is to join a growing list of High Street retailers to pull out of failing Aldershot town centre.

If nothing else, it explains why the broken front door has not been fixed.

M&S is not a social enterprise, it is a capitalist enterprise. It is a failing retailer.

It has no interest in Aldershot other than what money it can extract.

Why should it consult? The local council does not consult, why therefore expect Big Business to consult?

A simple rational decision will have been taken. Is the store losing money, or not making enough money? If yes, it will be closed.

A highly misleading headline in the local comic, the usual shoddy journalism. Jobs are not at risk. Jobs are being offered elsewhere. Whether same hours, same salary, convenient to get to, is a different matter. In terms of work locations, Guildford far more pleasant town to work than Aldershot.

For the local council to describe as a ‘bolt out of the blue’, only shows how out of touch with reality the local council.

The surprise is not that M&S Aldershot is closing, the surprise is that it did not close years ago.

Let us assume for a moment, no M&S in Aldershot. Would they open in Aldershot? A resounding no. They would take one look at a run down town, and walk away. Tacky fast food outlets, pound shops, gambling joints, little footfall on the street, the demographic of those on the streets, all are reason why M&S would not open in Aldershot.

The decision of M&S to close is a massive vote of no confidence, not only in Aldershot, but also the local council. It is also what local people have been doing for years, voting with their feet and going elsewhere.

Aldershot (and Farnborough) have suffered decades of bad planning decisions.

Wastegate, draws the centre of retail gravity away from the town centre. The net result is shops like M&S close.

That an unwanted urban development, with all the stress on the local infrastructure is taking place nearby, does not mean people will go into Aldershot. If they have the means, they will do as everyone else does, go elsewhere.

Is M&S Aldershot closure a one off, or part of a wider restructuring by M&S?

The closure of M&S, will give people one less reason to shop in Aldershot. It will be M&S Guildford or Waitrose Farnham.

£4.5 million is in the main being poured down the drain in Aldershot.

We have lost the mature trees in Union Street.

The work in the High Street and Grosvenor Road a complete waste of money.

Buses and lorries now have great difficulty in entering Grosvenor Road.

Grosvenor Road was only resurfaced last summer. Now being dug up, the pavement widened. Why, there is nothing in Grosvenor Road, no footfall.

One plus of the work, is that Union Street has been closed for over six months, traffic free. A more pleasant environment, more people on the street late afternoon. And yet there are no plans to make Union Street permanently closed to traffic.

There is a need to build a lorry bay at the back of 99p Stores (former Woolworth) to enable lorries to park and deliver to the shops by handcart.

There needs to be a pedestrian crossing across Grosvenor Road connecting Upper Union Street to Union Street.

All these measures, which would make positive improvement to the town centre environment, are known to the council, councillors, town centre manager.

Why are they not being implemented?

The Galleries sits empty. It should never have been built. Yet another example of crass planning decisions by a dysfunctional council with no understanding of town centre planning.

A lot of hand wringing, hot air, but no realistic solutions.

The Galleries sits empty. Well not quite, walk past WHSmith and find TechStart. A social enterprise that renovates old computers.

And that gives a clue to what could be done with The Galleries. A network of mutually supporting social enterprises, open co-ops, run by volunteers serving the local community, retaining and recycling money within the local economy.

Open a social enterprise restaurant, take in produce that would otherwise be destroyed, turn into delicious meals, pay what you want. Better than food banks as lacks the stigma, and better quality diet.

Social enterprise cafes are springing up across the country. Run by volunteers, they intercept food waste and turn into delicious meals on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. Even if people pay nothing, they stop the food going to waste, and they may wish to give something back by helping out. Better than food banks as without the social stigma and do not require referrals and far more nutritious diet. Food banks isolate people from society, social enterprise cafes draw people back in, provide them with a role.

Open a FabLab, expertise, machines to use. In Barcelona, the intention is to have a FabLab in every district of the city.

A swap shop. Tools to use.

A repair shop, where people can take literally anything and learn how to repair.

Starter units for small businesses to try out an idea. Start-ups, six months to try out an idea (possibility of an extension),  build up a customer base. The pop up shops in Aldershot were a farce. What can anyone do with two weeks? Which is why all they had was tat.

Community Shop. Stock on sale at a third of what you would normally pay. A community supermarket is looking for new locations. Aldershot is ideal.

The businesses and enterprises would network, support each other, many would overlap.

It would require peppercorn rents. If the property company refuses to play ball, serve a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Council is aware, has done nothing to pursue.

The Saturday market has proved to be a disaster. There was no consultation with either stallholders, retailers or people on the street. Last Saturday, half a dozen stalls if that, few people on the street. At the end of the day, the fruit and vegetable stall left with unsold produce.

The markets are seen as a council cash cow, rather than what is best for the markets, what is best for the town centre.

Writing in the latest issue of the local council comic Arena (Summer 2015), the leader of the council claims the Saturday market a success.

Both our town centres have also been boosted with the addition of a Saturday market in Aldershot and a Sunday market in Farnborough, with preliminary results encouraging.

So encouraging, stallholders are already pulling out and others considering their position.

Does he believe his own lies? Or does he think the public are stupid?

£4.5 million to be poured into the black hole of Aldershot

July 29, 2014

Aldershot is to receive £4.5 million investment. Three million external funding, one and a half million from the local council. ‘Investment’ is to stretch the meaning to breaking point, in reality, squandering of public money.

An example of the nonsense from imbecile leader of Rushmoor:

Successful initiatives such as Westgate and changes in the way people shop are providing new opportunities for the town and contributed greatly to the success of the bid. We are very pleased that this money has been secured for investment in Aldershot town centre.

When you make statements like this, you lose all credibility.

Westgate has been described as many things, but successful initiative is not one of them. It has had dire consequences on the town centre, retailers are suffering, look at the number of boarded-up and closed shops, retailers call it Wastegate.

Even in its own right, Wastegate is not a success. Walk through daytime and note the empty chain eateries. Every ten pound spent in one of these eateries, is ten pound not spent in the town centre, it is ten pound not recycled within the local economy, were it spent with local retailers.

The cinema, when a long awaited cinema opens in Farnborough, so far over a decade late, will see the bums on seats halve.

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

Any one who wants somewhere half decent to eat goes to Guildford of Godalming or Alton. And these towns offer a pleasant environment to wander around. The best Aldershot can offer is the recently refurbished Queen Hotel (and that is not good). And you can get a decent cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato.

Look at Aldershot and Farnborough, both are disaster, then look to the nonsense spouted by the imbecile leader of the council, and it is easy to see why.

In Farnborough one million pounds was wasted repaving Queensmead, shoddy workmanship, poor quality paving slabs, and when there is a heavy downpour it floods. Kingsmead is one of the ugliest shopping centres in the country, empty and boarded-up units, the look and feel of a film set for a post-apocalyptic movie.

Aldershot boarded-up and empty shops, fast food outlets, gambling joints, drunks on the streets.

Austerity, what austerity? When it comes to wasting public money, there is no limit. Austerity is an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services.

An exciting new project to improve Aldershot town centre has received the go ahead from members of Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet.

Everything is always described as ‘exciting’. They must lead incredibly dull lives.

The first phase of improvements is expected to start next year and will see the shop fronts of key town centre buildings restored.

Restoration of shop fronts to their original shop fronts should have happened decades ago.

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato look after their building, why not other landlords?

How will be enforced?

Grants are to be paid to bad landlords. Why should bad landlords who unlike Caffe Macchiato have looked after their building be rewarded? And if grants are to be paid, then the town should receive something in return, for example rent reduction to local indie businesses.

Phase two will focus on Union Street and Wellington Street. Paving will be repaired and Yorkstone will be replaced with block paving to match the current materials. Existing street furniture and landscaping will be scaled back to give clearer views and lighting will be redesigned to enhance the night-time environment.

The streets are trip hazards, patches of tarmac everywhere, uneven blocks and paving slabs.

 lorry in 'pedestriansied'  Union Street

lorry in ‘pedestriansied’ Union Street

Why are these streets not pedestrianised 24 hours a day seven days a week? Allowing vehicles through at four o’clock in the afternoon is a nightmare for pedestrians. Delivery lorries are smashing the paving slabs.

Both streets should be pedestrianised. Lorry and van deliveries can be made by parking on the edge of the town centre and delivering by hand cart. This is the norm in the old part of Istanbul, in Cascais, Athens, Puerto de la Cruz, Bassano del Grappa and many other European cities.

The paving of the streets should be York slabs, not blocks.

Re-paving of Queensmead took six months. Businesses saw footfall and takings fall during the work, they saw no recovery on completion of the work.

Clearer views of what? Bench seats do not obscure any views.

Costa should be barred from tables and chairs outside. The tables and chairs and the A-board are an obstruction on the street corner, the area covered in fag ends.

Night-time economy is drunken thugs roaming the streets. One reason why Aldershot now has Street Angels.

Aldershot lacks decent pubs. Somewhere to go and have a quiet drink of decent beer from a small brewery, eat a decent meal at a reasonable price, at night occasional quality live music.

The next stage will see signage improved to encourage people to visit different parts of town. Existing finger posts will be kept and seven monoliths will be installed at key town centre locations to provide visitors with information.

Why no finger posts directing people from Wastegate into the town centre?

Also need finger posts directing from town centre and bus and train station to West End Centre, a cultural oasis in the Philistine desert of Aldershot.

Monoliths appalling waste of public money.

Phase four will focus on Court Road and Wellington Street. A new footway link will be added between the upper decks of the High Street car park and Court Road. A new amphitheatre stairway will lead pedestrians from the High Street car park to the town. The car park will receive an external facelift and secure cycle stores will be introduced.

Footway link not necessary. Nor new stairway.

Tarting up the car park, will not disguise the fact an ugly multi-story car park.

Cycle storage out of sight, ideal for cycle thieves.

An appalling waste of public money.

Grosvenor Road will become a single lane making it easier for pedestrians to move from one side of the street to the other. There will be a focus on improving the look of the area, with wider pavements, contrasting paving materials, public art and street tree planting.

Grosvenor Road was only resurfaced a few weeks ago with new tarmac laid. Appalling waste of public money, if to be dug up to narrow the road and widen the pavements.

What should have been done at the time was a pedestrian crossing linking Union Street with Upper Union Street.

Grosvenor Road already is single lane, the pavements are not narrow.

The Queen Hotel has two A-Boards outside blocking the footpath, one across a dropped curb. The council has been aware since the pub re-opened in April following refurbishment. No action has been taken to affect their removal.

Delivery lorries for The Queen Hotel illegally park on the pavement. Council aware, no action taken

There is very low footfall in the street, nothing for passers by to visit. Thus an appalling waste of public money to widen the pavements and narrow the road.

There is a need to clean up the disgusting, dilapidated state of the buildings in Grosvenor Road. Some appear to be tenement slums. This means enforcement action against the landlords.

Barrack Road to be closed. Where do the buses to Farnham go, or has this not been thought of? Buses go up the High Street, turn left into Barrack Road en-route to Farnham. All around the houses, would not be acceptable to passengers or the bus company and would add unnecessary delay and fuel consumption. There has been no consultation with passengers or bus drivers. There are no legitimate grounds to close Barrack Road, nothing to be gained by doing so, but inconvenience would be caused to bus passengers.

Victoria Street

What of Victoria Street? A couple of years ago, the pavements were widened, the road narrowed. Traffic is not permitted to pass through during the day. Absolutely no notice is taken, buses can barely pass through due to cars parked either side. And if no traffic is permitted, how did the parked cars get there?

A lost opportunity. Victoria Street should have been pedestrianised.

Residents and businesses can find out more about the project at exhibitions being staged at key Aldershot sites in August. Starting on Monday 4 August, there will be displays at the Princes Hall and Wellington Centre. These will then move to Morrisons at Westgate and the Aldershot pools complex from Friday 15 August to the end of the month.

The usual fake consultation, plans already drawn up, go through the motions.

There has been no consultation with local indie retailers or people on the street in drawing up these plans.

Princess Hall is out of the way. Morrisons, people do a trolley shop and drive home, do not go into the town centre.

There is no publicity in the town centre.

It has already been decided when the work will start!

Telling people what the council has already decided, is not consultation.

Courts take a dim view of the failure to carry out fair and open minded consultation.

The decision by Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council to close two-thirds of libraries in the county, reduce hours at those remaining, fire 170 library staff, has been quashed by the High Court, due to the failure of the council to carry out proper consultation.

There should be stalls in Aldershot town centre, out in the open in Union Street, manned seven days a week, 10am until 6pm, for at least a fortnight, ideally a month, to take on board what locals think.

Exercise in hypocrisy

More nonsense from the imbecile leader of the council:

We want the town centre to be a busy and thriving place and the planned programme of improvements will help us to improve the appearance of Aldershot town centre and pedestrian links between key locations. We understand the issues facing Aldershot and see this phased approach as the next part of Aldershot’s regeneration.

What regeneration?

This is simply an exercise in barefaced hypocrisy. It is the council that has to date destroyed the town centre.

It’s the local economy stupid!

The proposals being put forward by the council are yet another example of squandering public money. They will do nothing to enhance Aldershot or remove its stigma as the place to avoid.

There should be zero tolerance of the drunken yobs at night, and that includes zero tolerance of the binge drinking bars that are fuelling their behaviour.

Clean up all the buildings, restore them to their former Victorian splendour.

Pedestrianise all the town centre streets, and that means a 24 hour seven days a week ban on all but emergency vehicles. Cyclists would be permitted.

Whilst the local council is in the main to blame for the parlous state of Aldershot town centre, greedy, grasping landlords charging unreasonable rents for a slum town centre are also to blame.

Just Shop has recently closed. It was the type of quality independent retailer that Aldershot needs and can ill afford to lose. They were forced to close by a greedy landlord charging too high a rent and not willing to enter into negotiations to lower the rent.

A policy that is working in other towns is to list all the rents being charged. Name and shame the bad landlords. When tenants go for a rent review, they have hard data to force their rents down.

Aldershot is a slum. The rents do not reflect this.

Aldershot is a deprived area. Everything possible should be done to retain money within the local economy, to recycle that money within the local economy.

Council policy to date has been to drain money out of the local economy, thus enforcing a downward spiral.

Support and promote local businesses.

Council policy to date, has been to destroy local businesses.

Following the excellent example of Guildford with Guildford Independent’s Day, and launch on 15 July 2015 Aldershot Independent’s Day. The only problem, as one indie business has identified, the lack of indie businesses. The actual problem is the lack of quality indie businesses.

Consider the introduction of a local currency, an Aldershot Pound. Problem same as for Aldershot Independent’s Day, the lack of quality indie businesses.

The Arcade lies boarded-up, sitting derelict. The council should serve a Compulsory Purchase Order and reopen, with the units let at realistic rents to local businesses.

Encourage community businesses like TechStart (a rare success story in Aldershot) and Transition Community Cafe.

Look to nearby towns, Guildford, Godalming, Farnham. Unlike Aldershot, they must be doing something right.

Look at the Portas Pilot towns, now two years on, and learn the lessons to be learnt. Only £100,000 was given to each Portas Pilot town. A drop in the ocean, less than a High Street chain would spend on outfitting a single store. No studies have been carried out. More shops have closed than have opened in the Portas Pilot towns. There is much criticism of the lack of analysis of and lack of support for the Portas Pilot towns.

Look to Transition Towns and the work being done by local communities to revive their towns. One of the failings by the local council has been not to involve local communities. The policy has always been to give developers what they want and show arrogant contempt for the wishes of local people and local businesses.

It is going to take years to recover from the damage inflicted on the town centre by the local council. That proposed by the council is simply an exercise in hypocrisy and squandering public money. Apart from repaving the two semi-pedestrianised streets, it will do nothing to help Aldershot.

Two more retailers quit Aldershot

June 16, 2014

Next closed down

Next closed down

flower shop closed down

flower shop closed down

Two more retailers have pulled out of failing Aldershot town centre.

Next shut down about ten days ago.

The other shop to go was the flower shop at the top of the street. They had relocated from a shop in neighbouring street, when they were forced to relocate when the building caught fire. Now they have gone.

And this is not counting the Thomson travel shop that closed a few months ago, or the retailers that have been driven out of The Arcade, or all the other closures.

There is a new coffee shop at the top of the street, their own hand-roasted coffee, but quality is lost on Aldershot, and they are clearly struggling, near empty most of the time.

Soon all that will be left will be the tackiest of the tackiest.

As everyone said it would Wastegate aka Wastegate delivering the final death blow to Aldershot.

Like neighbouring Farnborough, a town centre killed by planners in bed with greedy developers and Big Business.

Someone’s idea of a sick joke

April 18, 2014

someone's idea of a sick joke

someone’s idea of a sick joke

This poster has to rank as someone’s idea of a very sick joke.

There is nothing prestigious about a town centre that has been trashed by greedy developers, aided and abetted by the local council.

The reality, a run down and dilapidated town centre, most of the businesses driven out, trees on green space cut down, c 1720s Tumbledown Dick being demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s, pound shops, and soon bingo. Kingsmead, one of the ugliest shopping centres in the country, could easily stand in for a post-apocalyptic film set.

Usually, in the street, can count on one hand, the number of people.

Thursday afternoon, more people than usual, but on closer scrutiny, were milling around outside Poundland and 99p Store. Both stores were busy.

A price war has broken out. With the arrival of 99p Store, Poundland dropped prices to 97p, 99p Store matched, Poundland dropped prices to 95p. As the two pound stores battle it out the big loser Wilkinsons.

The little cafes, empty, Kingsmead empty.

New retail opportunities at The Meads, is classic Orwellian new speak of which George Orwell would be proud. Translated into plain English, we have trashed the town centre, bugger-all footfall, and as a result, a ghost town with many empty retails units.

The shops that remain, are paying well over the odds for local taxes and rent.

Local people who have the means, Farnborough a town to avoid.

Morrisons café: confusion pricing and over-complex menu

March 13, 2014

Morrisons crude copy of J D Wetherspoon menu

Morrisons crude copy of J D Wetherspoon menu

It is easy to see why Morrisons is a failing supermarket chain.

Yesterday I had late lunch, scampi and chips, in their café.

Take a look at this, I was handed their menu.

WTF. Someone had copied J D Wetherspoon, and done a very very poor job.

The menu was so complicated, I said I would take it with me and look at it whilst I had my lunch.

Luckily I knew what I wanted, scampi and chips, and that is what I ordered. It was then a session of any questions.

They have introduced big menu changes in their café. Someone must have visited J D Wetherspoon, decided to copy their menu, and then done a very bad job. Not only have they copied J D Wetherspoon, they have also copied worst practices from phone companies and energy companies, confusion pricing.

It took me whilst I was eating my lunch to try to make head or tail of the menu.

Order scampi and chips after 4pm, and you get a meal deal, the main course and a free drink, in my case a pot of tea.

A good deal, no?

Er no, a blatant rip off.

Prior to this week, if you ordered scampi and chips after 4pm, you received a free pot of tea.

Now with tea time meal deal, you pay a fiver to get a ‘free’ cup of tea. That is with scampi and chips costing £4-75, you are paying 25p extra for what was previously free.

But it gets worse.

blatant rip off verging on fraud

blatant rip off verging on fraud

Sitting at the table, I noticed scampi and chips was on offer at £3-75 (normal price £4-75). Had I ordered scampi and chips, then ordered tea and paid for it at 99p, I would have paid in total £4-74.

This is the level of dishonesty being practised by Morrisons, con the customer into thinking they are getting a deal, when in reality are overcharging, or charging for something that was previously free.

And if you think the menu complicated, spare a thought for the cashier.

Anyone wanting to eat in a supermarket, is either wishing to get through quickly before or after shopping.

Expect long queues at the checkout, as people try to negotiate their way through this complicated menu.

The menus does not even show tea, coffee, and cakes.

With this level of crass stupidity, it is easy to see why Morrisons is a failing supermarket chain.

Last year Morrisons reported a £176 million loss. Today Morrisons was the worst performer on the FTSE100, shares fell more than 10% at one point during the day.

Portas Pilots: failure or success?

May 30, 2013

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

In May 2012, the government announced twelve English High Streets would share £1.2 million of cash to rejuvenate their town centres.

The money allocated was trivial. Divvy up between twelve towns, and it was less than a High Street chain would spend on a store refurbishment.

Research for BBC Radio 4 You and Yours would appear to show that from vacancy and occupancy rates, the Portas experiment has been a failure.

Market Rasen appears to be a success. Was it the money, or the community spirit, and the lack of input from the local council?

300 towns applied for a share of the money. One of the unsuccessful bidders was Aldershot, a dire place to visit, boarded-up shops, betting shops, charity shops, fast food outlets, all the indications of a dead and dying town.

A local councillor in Aldershot has woken up to the fact that a shopping centre is sitting empty. He claims the developer is letting down the town. A clueless idiot if ever there was one. Developers destroy town centres. They are only interested in a fast buck, a quick return, extraction of the maximum amount of money from the town.

It is a bit rich coming from a local councillor. Who gave planning consent for the shopping centre? Why would any retailer wish to move into a dead and dying town centre? A situation caused by decades of poor planning decisions.

If anyone has let down the town, it is local councillors, like the clueless idiot now shedding crocodile tears.

Why would any retailer wish to move into a dead and dying town of boarded-up shops? The best use of the derelict shopping centre would be to turn it into something else. Anything other than retail.

The question this clueless councillor should be raising is the dire straits of local retailers.

Only a few weeks ago, the chief executive said Westgate was good news for Aldershot. This was news to local retailers who call the development Wastegate due to the dire consequences it has had on the town centre, a large retail development on the edge of the town centre, one large supermarket and several chain fast food outlets, all of which drain money out of the local economy.

It was not necessary to have Portas cash, in fact it was almost irrelevant, what was important was to apply the principles, something Aldershot and neighbouring Farnborough (another dead and dying town centre) have failed to do.

Town centres are about more than shops, retail and shopping. Which is one reason why shopping centres are such ghastly soulless places. In too many places, we have too much retail space, which is why much now sits boarded-up. We have had an over-expansion of retail space, aided and abetted by greed and corrupt planning planners in the pocket of developers. Retail space was expanded way beyond that which was sustainable, and we are now seeing the inevitable collapse and retraction.

Much work has been done by Transition Towns and New Economics Foundation, on creating sustainable communities, and yet that work is being ignored.

Small, independent retailers are the heart and soul of town centres, they provide diversity, character, recycle money within the local economy, and yet they have no say, are being driven out of town centres by greedy developers and corrupt planners in the pockets of developers.

Sincil Street in Lincoln is a very popular street in the centre of Lincoln. It is all what remains of the historic town centre. Small shops, independent retailers. During the day, more people than the High Street. And yet the City Council seems hell bent on destroying it to replace with a soulless shopping centre.

North Laine in Brighton is a pleasant are to visit. Why? Because of the diversity of its shops, restaurants, bookshops.

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