EREWASH Borough Council has this week demanded action to sort the derelict Woolworths site in Bath Street.
The old store has been standing empty since January 2009 when the retail giants folded, leading to shops all across the country being axed.
But while other towns in the area have moved on from that body blow – with Mansfield’s store becoming a New Look and Chesterfield’s now an H&M – Ilkeston’s is still standing empty and has now been declared a health hazard.
It is scandalous that this prime retail space has been left to wrack and ruin the way it has.
Is this really how we want our town to be seen? Situations like this just damage any attempts to breathe new life into our town centre.
It sometimes feels like the issue of the town centre is stuck like a broken record. Everyone knows there are problems but it sometimes feels little is done about it.
We now have an Ilkeston Town Team, formed to lead the bid for £100,000 of Government money and the support of Mary Portas, to boost the regeneration of the town centre.
That is a good move and when the bid goes in tomorrow, I’m sure we will all have our fingers crossed that we can secure some cash to help.
But we cannot just rely on that. This bid must be just the start of our efforts. We all need to pull in the same direction – the council, the Erewash Partnerhsip, the town’s Chamber of Trade, other retailers, shoppers, residents and us, the Advertiser, as the local paper.
We do not have the worst town centre in the world but there are issues which need to be addressed whether it is lobbying for rent and business rate reductions, looking at parking charges or better transport links.
However, the power is still in our hands to do something about it.
Yes it will be a struggle but together we can get this town centre going again.
Just look at the amount of people who come into Ilkeston town centre for the Charter Fair.
If we could just make a few more of those people realise what Ilkeston town centre has to offer then it would be a start.
The council has extended its Golden Hello scheme for new shops while the trial to stop early closing on a Wednesday is another example of how retailers are trying to move with the times. But realistically more needs to be done and we need a more joined-up approach.
We need a proper strategy. One that will not allow one of the biggest shops on one of our main shopping streets to stand empty for four years and become infested with vermin.
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