Walking the length of Bath Street recently I counted 26 closed shops, some of them in a terrible condition.
The Mary Portas report on town centre regeneration tells us nothing many local people haven’t known for years.
I believe access for many shoppers to the Bath Street shops is a major problem.
Ilkeston isn’t like any other shopping areas.
Our local rivals for custom like Stapleford, Long Eaton, Beeston and even Nottingham and Derby are relatively flat, whereas Bath Street, our main shopping area, is situated on a very steep gradient.
I know many elderly people who don’t venture below the lower Market Place because they can’t manage the return journey.
Even most of the banks and building societies are well down the slope on the steepest bit.
Friends of mine can’t understand my opposition to the new superstore as they say the town centre is dead anyway.
They aren’t from Ilkeston so they have no particular affection for the town.
I think though a new re-think by the authorities is required before it’s too late.
A couple of suggestions I would like to make would involve the council and bus companies support.
A Monday or Tuesday market situated on the broad pavement starting at the Poplar Inn down to the island at the bottom of Bath Street, selling items such as antiques, crafts, bric-a-brac etc may help to get shoppers into that area.
The arcade-type shopping in the old Woolworths building should help also.
Just as important though is a return of the buses onto Bath Street, again with frequent stops.
The Number 15 Sawley bus must travel to the bottom of town again.
The Market Place must be open for bus usage again on non-market days.
A market place should be a busy place every day, not just on market days.
It was easier to reach the Bath Street shops in 1903 when the trams arrived followed by the trolley buses and so on until pedestrianisation some 90 years later, than it is today.
I believe pedestrianisation has succeeded in keeping cars and most vehicles off Bath Street but the buses need to return.
To me helping Bath Street to recover is more important then a new rail station, Stanton truck or a new college.
I don’t want my friends to be proved right