Council leader responds to "Fitzy's" comments about Northampton town centre looking like Chernobyl
Cllr Jonathan Nunn has said he hopes government funding can help create a town centre that residents and businesses can be proud of
Councillor Jonathan Nunn has responded to market trader Eamonn "Fitzy" Fitzpatrick's calls for the council to spend government funding 'wisely' and to ultimately increase footfall in the town.
The council has been allocated £8.4million by the government to regenerate the Market Square and also the £25 million of the Towns Funded project to spend.
Fitzy said he would like to see the council improve other aspects of the town centre instead of the Market Square, which include providing free parking, lowering rents, and abolishing business rates.
However, Cllr Nunn has explained the situation from his perspective.
The council boss said: “Towns centres up and down the country are changing due to the way people are choosing to shop, with more people going online and to out of town destinations.
“This has led to challenges, and for Northampton town centre to continue to serve the residents of the town and the wider area it too needs to change and doing nothing will only allow the decline in retail to continue.
“This is why the partnership of Northampton Forward was formed which is made up of leading local stakeholders including the West Northants Council, Trickers, Grosvenor Centre, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, Royal and Derngate, Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District, a community representative and MP Andrew Lewer in order to look at how the challenges that Northampton is facing could be addressed.
“Through this partnership the council has secured the money to transform the Market Square, which was voted as one of the top priorities that needed investment within the town centre by residents during our consultations."
However, Fitzy believes only around 1,000 people were consulted about where investment should be focused in the town, which is less than one percent of the Northampton's population.
Cllr Nunn continued by saying that the transformation of the Market Square 'won't be enough to address the challenges' but pointed to successful aspects of the town that attract thousands of people every year including the new museum, the Vulcan Works, the renovation of the art gallery, the Royal and Derngate, and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh house.
He finished by saying: “Through the investments already made and those that are planned, both the Market Square and our £25m of Towns Funded projects, we hope to create a town centre that residents and businesses can be proud of.
“However, this is just the start and will be a catalyst to attract more independent retailers and make Northampton a destination for businesses to start-up, relocate and invest. It is this wider regeneration that will put Northampton back on the map as a place to visit with its rich history, culture and independent spirit.”