I have read a number of letters from people expressing their views on what is wrong with Blyth’s town centre.
I think it is generally agreed that Blyth as a shopping destination has declined and clearly the town centre is not as vibrant as it was a few years ago, before the recession for instance.
I think the closure of Woolworths had a significant detrimental impact.
Woolworths was well placed on the market place to attract a healthy footfall towards that area of the town.
The Blyth shop may have been profitable, but in any case, the chain closed.
Unfortunately, the shop that has replaced Woolworths does not attract the same level of footfall and it is possible that this has reduced the cumulative draw of the shops in that area.
I would prefer Northumbria House to be resurrected as retail as I believe this part of the town needs something that will attract a high level of shoppers back to the area around the market place.
I have seen opinion expressed that the location of bus station and the market place should be swapped.
I don’t see any logical reason why this would make Blyth more attractive.
It is necessary to consider how people might be drawn through the town centre from the bus station towards Blyth’s shops.
With the bus station at its present location there is a relatively attractive corridor of shopping floor space, from the bus station, through the Keel Row to the market place and potentially onwards towards Morrisons.
Switching the position of the bus station with the market place would put the market place on the wrong side of the town centre in terms of shopping floor space, probably making the market even less attractive.
I have some sympathy with those who oppose the planned offices on Blyth Quayside. There are certainly empty offices nearer the centre of Blyth.
However, that these offices are available to let, but empty, suggests that for whatever reason, they are not attractive to the businesses that the proposed quayside offices seeks to attract.
One correspondent says that Blyth has a high unemployment rate and precious few opportunities to get employment, yet opposes the quayside offices apparently on the basis that these businesses will not provide jobs to local people.
I’m not entirely sure what the term ‘local people’ means, but are Blyth people not capable of being educated and accessing specialist jobs?
I am quite sure that many people in Blyth and the surrounding areas have been to college and university and others will continue to do so in the future and will be able to do ‘high value jobs’.
Change in employment opportunities has left Blyth less than prosperous.
Future wealth is not something that will just happen. If we do not exploit the opportunities on offer for infrastructure for the future for instance, our children and grandchildren may suffer the consequences.