Positive steps for our town centres

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery int the Market Place, Bedlington.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery int the Market Place, Bedlington.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when local high streets provided virtually anything anyone needed for their family life.

Then along came the out-of-town centres, giant supermarkets and the internet, all of which have dealt our high streets massive blows. It is hard to argue that is, in some ways, progress. It is sad to see the combined impact these new ways of shopping have had on town centres.

It’s good to see, therefore, that our three main high streets in Wansbeck are fighting back with the support of Northumberland County Council and its development company Arch, which plan to invest significant sums of money in breathing new life into the centres of Ashington, Bedlington and Newbiggin by the Sea.

Last week the county council completed work on a £1.5m scheme to revitalise the town centre stretch of Station Road by again opening it to traffic, with 30 on-street parking spaces. The scheme has been designed in response to ideas put forward by local businesses to not only improve the look of the street, but to help boost trade by bringing more people back to Station Road in time for Christmas.

Equally, the county is listening to what people would like to see happening in the centre of Bedlington, where investment of some £10m is being earmarked. There is no doubt that the area has needed a ‘lift’ since the shock closure of the Tesco store and I am confident that will happen as a result of the proposed improvements.

At Newbiggin another £1.3m will be spent developing a mix of commercial premises and eight rental apartments to revitalise the site where the Railway and New Dolphin pubs once stood – all of which adds up to excellent news for our local town centres.

Finally, may I take this opportunity of wishing all News Post Leader readers a very merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year on behalf of myself and my constituency office staff.