Letter: The fear of Northampton becoming a ghost town

Letter writer Gail Clarke says something needs urgently to be done to arrest the decline of Northampton town centre...

Friday, 30th November 2018, 3:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 3:35 am
Northampton's M&S store closed its doors for the last time in the summer

I need to voice my opinion regarding Northampton town centre.

I moved here from London just over 20 years ago and I watched the town grow and fail from a hive of vibrant activity with practical interesting shops including butchers, bakers, The Belfast Irish Linen shop, Rosebury’s shop, shoe shops, Woolworths, British Home Stores, C&A, Mark & Spencer, Beatties and others I now can’t remember.

We had a vibrant street market and as a market town this was a matter of course. This meant the town and market was well patronised by shoppers that knew they could buy everything needed and could browse around in the shops – just because.

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Understandably, the shops Northampton has lost due to economic closures by the stores themselves is something there is no control over. The vacant premises are now a fearful sight and as already said looking like a ghost town.

The stores that have gone are so spacious and could house small retail outlets i.e bakers, butchers, craft shops, fishmongers, haberdashers, iron mongers, grocers to name but a few. Maybe an indoor market for the non Saturday market traders or week day flea markets as the old British Home Stores leads from high street to inside the Grosvenor Centre.

As it stands now these empty shop doorways are littered with rough sleepers and drunks, and the back streets are suffering from human urine and faeces. This must surely be detrimental to public health and safety.

The out of town retail parks are not for everyone as not everyone has the transport to get to these out of the way shopping centre or retail parks. If bus travel is not covered by a bus pass it costs a fortune, and is far costlier than London.

This I know, as I have an Oyster travel Card and can top up in most London shops and can travel from north to south London. I can travel from one zone to another for a very small fee and hop on and off buses all day, at will, all around London.

So, what’s left in Northampton town. You can pop into one of many banks to draw some cash to buy a friend or relative a birthday/celebration card, then along to one of the numerous coffee establishments to write out your card over an extortionately priced cup of froth before going into one of many pubs to celebrate the occasion.

All this, before placing a bet on how much farther you will get before being accosted by the local drunks, junkies or homeless. Of course, the likelihood of this happening from all three is a given.

This is while making a pointless call to the police from your recently purchased mobile from one of the many mobile shops on your way to the post box to post said greeting.

Northampton town centre should be more aptly named Lost City with no Name.

From Gail Clarke, by email