REGENERATION: A work in progress

Blyth Market Place in the town centre.
Blyth Market Place in the town centre.

Mark Stevens asks why more branded chains like Nandos don’t invest in Blyth as compared to Cramlington, (News Post Leader, August 18).

It’s an often heard complaint to criticise Blyth’s retail offer and to compare it, disparagingly, to Cramlington.

The problem’s simple. Cramlington shopping centre started with a greenfield site in the 1960s and has one major landlord. Blyth, by comparison, is a patchwork quilt of 200 years of development, with dozens of landlords.

Not all those landlords are either co-operative or committed to Blyth in any meaningful way.

I wish it wasn’t like that, but, contrary to popular belief, local authorities don’t have the power to make landlords behave rationally or with any commitment to Blyth.

As a town council we can do lots of little things.

Through schemes like the Townscape Heritage Initiative, local authorities can seek grants to help landlords bring buildings like Hedley Youngs back to an attractive state, and we can seek to promote Blyth as being a different and attractive place with its own unique heritage.

That’s why the town council has invested in a new heritage leaflet and map.

That leaflet was timed to coincide with another strand in our efforts to promote Blyth; the Tall Ships North Sea Regatta.

I’m proud that the town council helps to bring events like the Tour of Britain and the Tall Ships to Blyth so that our town can be seen by visitors from Britain and Europe, and can be on TV all round the world.

Bit by bit we’re changing the image of Blyth, and I’m proud that the town council is playing its part, including investing in improved environmental services with Northumberland County Council.

The fruits of recent investment can be seen in Blyth.

We may not have Nandos, but we have a number of excellent independent restaurants, from the Quayside to the town centre, and a new hotel that speaks volumes about outsiders’ belief in Blyth as a place to do business.

The regeneration of the town is a work in progress, but better by far that we work with what we have than pursue a clone of Cramlington that would be impossible to achieve.

Coun Carol Bruce

Blyth Town Council