£3 million cost of St Giles Street improvements in Northampton questioned by opposition leader

A refurbishment of St Giles Street will cost �3 million
A refurbishment of St Giles Street will cost �3 million

The opposition leader on Northampton Borough Council has said she is concerned about the £3million cost of refurbishing St Giles Street.

The borough council announced on Wednesday that it would be widening the pavements in the town centre street and adding extra parking bays to make the area more attractive to shoppers.

The total cost of the project will be £3 million, with work set to start after Christmas. A council spokesman said the money was coming from the borough council’s ‘capital funds’.

Councillor Danielle Stone, Labour leader on the borough council, said she was worried that the council may not be able to afford to spend so much money on the project.

She said: “I’m pleased St Giles Street is getting funding and it is unique offer is recognised.

“However, I am not sure where this money is coming nor do I understand how it has been approved.

“I really hope we are not borrowing money again like we did for Abington Street and Guildhall Road. The council cannot afford to keep borrowing in these difficult times.

“Something similar was done to Gold Street a few years back but it didn’t really work.

“To really improve the town centre something needs to be done to limit the number of betting shops and fast food outlets. Nevertheless, I hope this competition will encourage more independent retailers to set up in St Giles Street.

A spokesman for the borough council said it began working on plans and proposals for the area with local businesses and traders in the summer.

Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “With the news that St Giles Street has been recognised by the Great British High Street Awards it is clear that people across the country are recognising the importance of this unique area. St Giles Street is home to many independent traders and local businesses you will not find anywhere else in the country, and it is something we feel hugely proud of.

“Over the summer we have been working with these local businesses, the County Council and the BID to consult on how we can work together to improve the area. We have held two open meetings for all of the businesses in the area, and the ideas and suggestions that have come out of those meetings have helped to shape our plans.

“This was first reported in July’s Town Centre Newsletter, which was hand delivered to all town centre businesses. With detailed plans being published in this week’s Chronicle & Echo.

“The improvement work is set to start in the new year, and we will be visiting every business before any work begins to talk with them about the improvements and what we can do to schedule each stage of the project to cause the minimum of disruption.”