A former leader of Northampton Borough Council has dismissed claims that rain puts people off visiting the town centre.
A report published by Northampton Borough Council showed the number of shoppers in the town between October and December last year fell by three per cent compared to the previous year.
Officials at the Guildhall blamed the drop on a combination of ‘the economic situation’ and weeks of rainfall.
But opposition councillor David Palethorpe (Lab, Billing), who was leader of the council until October 2011, believed blaming the weather hid the true facts.
He said: “It’s a complete load of balderdash and nonsense highlighting a pathetic and desperate attempt to find any excuse, rather than face up to the reality, which is that the real reason people didn’t visit Northampton is a combination of families suffering as a result of the Government’s economic policies and a town that’s uninviting and needs cleaning up.”
The council’s figures showed 3.5 million people visited the town centre between October and December 2012.
But the leader of the authority, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) argued a lot was being done to attract more people to the town, such as introducing free parking, cutting market stall rents and bringing back the St Crispin Street Fair.
Discussing further expansion plans for the town, he added: “Through our regeneration plans we’ll bring students into the heart of Northampton; the county council is also bringing 2,000 workers back to the town centre and the Enterprise Zone will bring investment opportunities for the whole town.
“It is a shame that while the Conservatives are looking ahead and talking the town up, Labour are stuck in the past and talking it down.”
The number of shoppers recorded in Northampton town centre between October and December last year was 3,506,188.
That figure represented a 2.9 per cent drop on the same period the previous year.
In the town’s Market Square, the number of people recorded was actually up, with 81,742 people recorded during the three month period - a rise of 6.8 per cent on the previous year.
Shopper numbers are calculated using special cameras.