TONY Hooke kicked off the awareness of our empty shops and Test Valley Borough Council held a town centre summit. Results are yet to be published, so while we wait, consider this.
I worked on the high street in one of Andover’s now closed shoe shops.
Trade was brisk until the first out of town superstore opened.
When they did, trade halved because people no longer had to come to town.
Over the years, more superstores opened and the products offered have expanded.
As a result, high street butchers, pharmacies, fruit and vegetable shops, opticians, shoe and clothing stores, who have to pay high rents and high business rates, are unable to compete with falling footfalls and are forced to close.
The high street has lost out because of the convenience of the superstores.
Why not use the high street? I can think of one answer and that is because you have to pay to park in town. Letters in the past ask about bringing parking to the high street.
In truth, people used to park in the high street without paying and if a traffic warden paid attention to your car, you dashed back!
Many forget about the countless laps you had to drive to get a space to begin with.
Put the high street on an equal footing with the superstores and give free parking across Andover.
Offer all day free parking on the top floors of the multi-storey and Shepherds Spring Lane car park to those working in Andover who currently park outside the ever-increasing no parking zones in Andover and walk in.
This practice annoys residents and costs TVBC thousands in double yellow lines, parking permits and administration.
Recoup the lost parking revenue by fining people for parking all day in a short stay car park, or pay for it in the short term by dipping into TVBC’s £2m General Fund Reserves.
The accounts for 2011/2012 show TVBC is sat on £37.8m of reserves.
Let Andover show other towns how to bring footfall back into their dying high streets.
Cllr Steven Hardstaff Launcelot Close Andover