I recently wrote about ‘How Can We Help The High Street‘ in which I had asked Rayleigh Town Council to invite Rochford District Council’s economic development team along to our Full Council meeting, so they could give us a view of their
strategy ideas for Rayleigh’s High Street.
The meeting was attended by three representatives from Rochford District Council, Angela Hutchings (Strategic Director), Daniel Kudla (Economic Regeneration Officer) and the Conservative Portfolio Holder George Ioannou.
I had attempted to attend this meeting with positivity and a degree of optimism which was soon to be crushed by what followed.
The presentation began with the strategic director reeling off a narrative of the copied slides from some seminar that she had previously attended, all of which showed national statistics, all very well I thought, where’s the local statistics? Unfortunately my disappointment was only to continue as I listened to how Bill Grimsey says this, Bill Grimsey say that….. (if you don’t know who Bill Grimsey is, as I suspect many members didn’t, then take a look here) Death by powerpoint isn’t something that I relish and I have to admit my enthusiasm for the meeting by this point had dwindled significantly.
There was no mention of vacancy rates in Rayleigh’s High St or the traffic problems that regularly blight the roads, stopping people visiting the High St. Car parking was mentioned by one member as a problem due to the nature of pay and display it ‘time limits’ peoples shopping experience unlike retail parks and shopping centres like Lakeside, but we were basically told, we don’t want people milling around without buying – this goes against every trader I’ve ever spoken to. Retailers want people browsing, they want a crowd, more people = more interest = more sales
We were told about some of the work going on in Rochford, due to the need as it has lost it’s heart and soul, and it became frustrating, as despite the clear invitation that the Rochford District Council officers had received, there was very little mentioned about the future of Rayleigh’s High St.
The Economic Regeneration Officer spoke very little, which was disappointing and I had to wonder why the Conservative portfolio holder for enterprise had come along as he appeared ‘closed for business’ with nothing to say at all on the matter!
The meeting was concluded with an expression of forming another ‘talking shop’ with ‘key stakeholders’.
My optimism for Rayleigh’s High Street remains but only because I know there are small business owners who’s livelihoods depend on it and they will continue to keep up the fight.