.Civic pride in a town starts with a Town Centre that is safe, clean and vibrant. The economic success of a good Town Centre automatically follows.
Above all, when people visit the Town Centre they must feel safe. This should be achieved by ensuring that there is a police presence in the Town Centre all of the time. This should also be linked with an embargo of dinking in the street and possible powers to disperse gangs and prevent loitering. These powers must of course be used sensibly.
Rotherham Town Centre is presently too large to be sustainable. We should therefore try to reduce its geographical size by encouraging the Government to reduce by half the non domestic rates of all shops within a given radius of the Town Centre. This would have the added benefit of encouraging more businesses to set up within the centre of town because of the economic benefits.
If possible, the new Stadium should provide a substantial amount of free parking within the complex. This would need to be achieved through negotiation and supported by grants. By ensuring that there is an abundance of parking around town would allow The Council to then provide free parking throughout the town without having to worry about all the spaces being taken up with those who work in the Town Centre.
The above must also be supplemented with a sensible transport policy to encourage people to leave their cars at home. This will be necessary if car ownership continues to rise.
The Town Centre Renaissance would be helped if the Government would support, through the grants system, the borrowing of money to finance the renaissance without the need resort to what is known as prudential borrowing which only adds to the burden on Local Authorities.
Extra cleaning, care and maintenance of the street scene should take place.
Some research needs to be carried out to determine if a more vibrant Town Centre could be achieved by encouraging specialist retailesr into town who would not be faced with the competition from Meadowhall.
For many years now the Town Centre has only survived because of the Market. However the market has been slowly deteriorating with the inevitable consequences. Investment in the market complex is needed together with rents that will keep the market stalls fully used.
Work needs to be done to determine if it is possible to relocate the Rail Station to the Stadium complex.
Not all of the above may be achievable and could not happen over night but Rotherham has to start somewhere.
Peter ThirlwallIndependent Candidate Rotherham Constituency