BACK OUR TOWN: 'Northampton does not look familiar like it used to'

Boss Emanuele De Palma.
Boss Emanuele De Palma.

As part of our campaign to get more shoppers stepping foot inside Northampton's independent retailers, tradespeople have told us what should be done to improve our town.

Times like this need to galvanise us as a town. So we are urging the good people of Northampton and our local authorities – not to let our high street dwindle.

Our hope over June is to shine a light on those independent stores, tucked away in arcades or side streets many of you may not realise exist.

However, many townsfolk and loyal customers have been testament to well known Caffe D'Italia's success. The Fish Street-based Italian coffee shop has been in business, under the ownership of Emanuele De Palma, 40, for 15 years.

Mr De Palma came to Northampton 20 years ago to learn English while he stayed with his aunt. After working in Cafe Nero and hotels he decided to stop working for others and set up his own firm.

He said the trick to his success is that he knows his customers well.

"It's a one man band. The service has always been the same.

"I'm very proud, I like my work - I always try to do the best I can.

“A small business makes you feel at home.”

He's seen the town change drastically since 2003 and says it's about time Northampton had some TLC.

He said: "It's difficult to understand what we need as a town but my customers tell me we need better shops. Free parking would be great too.

"It does not look familiar like it used to. It's because of the credit crunch and austerity around Europe.

"If people come into the town they have to pay £4-£5 for the car park and they think what are we going to do here? This town, for years, has needed a little bit of improvement. It's sad. This is a nice town at the end of the day."

Other suggestions from different business owners include putting signs on Abington Street to give direction to St Giles Street.

Empty shop units could be turned into trade fairs for small businesses to sell their wares and leisure rates could be introduced in a bid to set up entertainment venues for adults.

Since high street giants Marks & Spencer announced it will shut the Abington Street store this month - our letter-bag has been bursting with your comments.

As well as independent traders - we are giving YOU the chance to tell us how you think the town centre can be improved - and where its strengths lie in our Chron survey.

We will be printing all of the results here in the Chron on Thursday, July 5, complete with as many of your comments as we can squeeze in the paper.

Take part in our town centre survey by clicking here.

READ MORE HERE:

CHRON COMMENT: Let's not mourn the loss of M&S in Northampton... let's back our traders

BACK OUR TOWN: 'We need signage on Abington Street to boost St Giles Street profile'

BACK OUR TOWN: 'Empty shop units could now be used for regular craft fairs to support independent businesses'

BACK OUR TOWN: 'Bring back free parking on weekends in the town centre'

BACK OUR TOWN: 'It's difficult for independent shops to survive in Northampton with no big names'

BACK OUR TOWN: 'Business rates seriously need to be reduced'