This is something I’ve wanted to tackle since I first became councillor.
As a council we take our local shops for granted.
Trafford gives strategic attention to four specific town centres of Altrincham, Sale, Stretford and Urmston. These four centres are designated within the official Local Plan and are monitored and supported through the council budget. Less attention is afforded to village centres such as Sale Moor, Partington, Hale Barns, Ashton upon Mersey and Timperley; but at least they are on the map.
As a council we give almost zero recognition to corner shops and smaller shopping parades. Yet there’s an argument that these hyper-local neighbourhood parades contribute more in social capital and community well-being than the town centres ever could do.
The local shops are part of family life
When mum or dad says ‘can you nip down to the shop for butter?’ the child knows where they’re being sent. It might be that these days the child is much older before they’re considered sufficiently road savvy to be allowed shopping errands, but it’s still a right of passage to nip down to the shop.
Local shops matter. When local shops fall into decay, it becomes a blight on the community. They can either add value to property prices or detract. They are very much part of the identity of a place.
The good news is that we have a lot of local shopping parades in and around Gorse Hill Ward and largely with one or two exceptions, they’re doing ok.
Apart from on the Gorse Hill parade, there are almost no vacant units across our local shops. So that’s good. But are there things that should be improved?
I believe there’s a whole host of things that could and should be done by council and other agencies; and especially by the store owners themselves. I’ve tried to come up with a list primarily based on the complaints and gripes I’ve encountered in this area. It’s not exhaustive but generally I’m hoping to have captured the doable stuff.
- Litter management issues, sufficient bins – right locations?
- Access to the shops – safe crossing?
- Traffic Management – too many cars on forecourt? Deliveries?
- General cleanliness?
- Good mix of provision? Too many takeaways? Duplication?
- Cycle parking
- Trip hazards, uneven pavements?
- Feeling safe? People smoking outside pubs and betting shops
- Vacant units?
- Management of waste – commercial waste
- Cleanliness of alleys and ginnels associated with the shops
Is this a reasonable basis for measuring the health of our local shops and things to do to improve ? Is there anything I’ve missed?
It’s something I’m really keen to do. I’m hoping to put together a living set of actions for the council and other agencies to support the vitality of our shops. So I really want you to engage with this.