INVESTMENT: Problems still there

Mr Gordon Webb’s detailed list of investments in Blyth, (News Post Leader, July 9), is riddled with holes and is a glossing over of the facts with hyperbole.

Fact. Specsavers is not an example of investment; it simply moved to premises that were more customer friendly. In its old shop in Regent Street, customers faced, amongst other things, having to climb a dark staircase for an eye test.

Additionally, the layout of the ground floor was not conducive to free-flow of customers.

And, let’s not forget, Specsavers got its new premises because an old, established, Blyth family business, Woodcocks, had to close down because of lack of footfall in Blyth town centre. So not a case of investment, more a case of a sensible company looking after its existing customers and grabbing a prime site left by a retailer that could not survive in Blyth.

Fact. The old Co-op building in Waterloo Road was also previously occupied, but closed because customers were moving to an area where private investment has created a retailer’s dream, namely Manor Walks, Cramlington.

Where would you rather shop? Cramlington with its plethora of offers and goods from major retailers, or Blyth, with its deserted streets (see Blyth on a Saturday afternoon) and empty market square?

It’s pointless me listing fact after fact.

I don’t believe the correspondence fooled anyone. For example, Wilkinson’s was also not a case of Blyth town centre expanding by housing another retailer; no, just simply one business moving out, the Co-op again, and someone else moving in.

And don’t try and put a negative spin on critics of the way our town has been managed in previous years. It is not a case of people not liking change, as you say.

We all want to see Blyth prosper and be a better place to shop in.

We want to see the market place revived (whether that includes stall holders or not).

We want to look into shop windows and see the goods that are on offer in other town centres and malls.

However, most of all, we want real investment in Blyth.

Having a band on the beach one weekend and a fleeting visit by ships in the harbour is not long-term investment.

It is an attempt to ‘calm the anger’ in Blyth residents; rather like having a party and forgetting our woes for one weekend, only to find out the problems are still there on Monday morning. In fact, it is an insult to our intelligence.

Why is the Labour party and its councillors suddenly trying to talk up the situation in Blyth?

Could it be because they have finally heard the public’s cry?

Could it be because over 20,000 people in Blyth Valley voted against Labour in the recent elections?

Labour got in, but with just around 17,000 votes.

The majority of voters wanted someone other than Labour, and no amount of juggling the details (as did Grant Davey when he mentioned Frameworks as a recent example of Labour’s contribution to the aesthetics of Blyth – he was well out of date) will alter the facts.

One final question. Who exactly are Arch?

What is ‘the council’s development company’ as it is so described? Why are its profits (or should that be our profits) being used to sponsor awards in local events? Who runs Arch? Is it quite simply another name for what was the old Public Works Department?

Revell Cornell (Sr)