Tagged: town centre

“Welcome to Darlington – we don’t want you or your customers in our empty town”


A disgruntled resident has plastered a North-East town with posters attacking its council for their parking policies.

Posters spotted across Darlington recently accuse the local authority of creating a ghost town and damaging trade.

The anonymous protestor has created a variety of signs, all illustrated with a picture of a parking ticket.

One says “Welcome to Darlington, we don’t want you or your customers in our empty town” while another says “Welcome to Darlington, we love empty shops”.

A more detailed – and laminated – version found pinned to the Old English Gentleman pub on Bondgate said: “Welcome to Darlington. Darlington Council loves empty shops, Darlington Council hates vehicles, hates customers, hates business. Traffic warden *** is helping make their dreams of a ghost town come true.”

Council leader Bill Dixon described the posters as cowardly and criticised the attack on the individual traffic warden.

He said: “As a town centre we are doing incredibly well and have the lowest rate of vacant shops in the North-East.

“We’ve got enough town centre parking at present. Parking wardens have instructions and take ten minutes to issue a ticket. Where possible, they ask people to move but if someone’s parked illegally, what can they do?

 “They might not get it right every time but there’s an appeals procedure for that and they’re human beings like everyone else.”

He added: “This person is running their town centre down which doesn’t help anybody here.

“We have the best performing town centre in the North-East and some of our traders are turning against it and that’s sad.

“This kind of fly-posting is the last thing people need to see and it gives the wrong impression.”

Local trader Beryl Hankin, from the Guru boutique, has been lobbying the council to improve parking for years but says this approach could put more people off visiting the town.

She said: “It smacks of desperation and is probably someone who feels this is the only way to get their message across but it’s not great for the town in general.

“Since pedestrianisation, there’s been a noticeable detrimental difference – if you can’t get cars in, it effects trade.

“Vehicle access is vital to a town’s success. The multi-storey car park being built will help but it will take a long time and a lot of little businesses can’t hold on until then.”

> So if someone can’t drive their car virtually into a shop, they won’t shop there anymore ? And will spend more on fuel to go to another town, just to spite ?

As a non-driver, I have to say the fewer cars in town centres, the better I like it. 

And if you don’t want a parking ticket, dont break the parking rules.

Source –  Northern Echo,  28 June 2014

Vicar offers prayers for bankers

Jesus may have had some harsh words for money lenders, but a Tyneside vicar has been offering up prayers for modern day bankers.

Banks may not have enamoured themselves to people in recent years, but Father Chris Fuller is prepared to risk public disapproval – by offering prayers for them.

The plea for help from above is part of a radical approach by the vicar at St Hilda’s Church and town centre chaplain, who has launched “prayer services for businesses” throughout the town.

Prayers have already been offered for NECA – the North East Council on Addictions, based at Cookson House, the Citizens Advice Bureau, in the Edinburgh buildings, and Market Place stallholders.

Yesterday he invited representatives from the 12 banks based in and around the town centre to a service at St Hilda’s – although in the event no one from the banks attended.

Father Chris said: “We still offered prayers to the banks and named bank managers.

“Banks may not be the most popular businesses in the community, but they do offer a service and I think they have had a bad press because of the city bankers.

“I think that locally one hopes they are focused on the community and I’ve had a good response from those I’ve visited, even though some have expressed surprise that I want to pray for them.

“No one is outside of being prayed for – even banks!”

> In that case, maybe the vicar should start at the bottom – the Jobcentre, and the poor sods getting sanctioned.

As for local bank branches being focused on the community – they’re not local, they’re part of multi-national businesses. If someone at head office says “Screw the community”, then that’s what they’ll do.

Future prayers for retailers and firms will be offered at Wednesday morning services for town centre businesses – including The Gazette.

Father Chris said: “Part of my role as town centre chaplain is to support what the businesses are doing.

“They are part of the community here and, like everyone, are in need of prayer. By supporting them in prayer, the church is showing it has a role, not just for Sunday, but for all of the week for anyone in need or trouble.

“I visit businesses, give them a leaflet about the town centre chaplaincy, explain who I am and ask for the name of manager to invite to our Wednesday morning service.

“We pray for the organisation, a named manager and whoever the business supports.

“A chaplain is there to take an interest in the people in their community and offer a listening ear and advice.”

Father Chris, who has been a chaplain to both the police and the army, added: “I’m happy to support local businesses through prayer.

“Prayer is our business after all.”

> “Business” obviously being the operative word.

Source – Shields Gazette  13 Feb 2014

Begging ‘blight’ on South Shields town centre

FEARS are growing over a rise in beggars who are “blighting” South Shields town centre.

Police, traders and charity workers have all expressed concern over an increase in the number operating in South Shields Town Centre.

Where once it was rare to see homeless people in street doorways it is now commonplace, with up to six individuals in the centre at any one time.

Gazette research has located several locations in and around King Street where beggars have been operating.

These have included outside of McDonald’s restaurant, the PDSA charity shop in the Market Place, the doorway of a vacant premises beside the British Heart Foundation, Lloyds Bank, at the Games Workshop in the Denmark Centre and at Morrisons in Ocean Road.

Today, the public were advised to give food and clothing to beggars but not money, as many are believed to be using cash handed over to buy drugs and alcohol.

Gill Peterson, assistant manager at Age UK in the Denmark Centre, regularly has beggars operating on either side of her shop.

Mrs Peterson says she has reached the “end of her tether” at their activities, claiming they scare off customers, hurl abuse and rifle through bins at the back of the premises.

She added: “I’m sick of them. They scare customers off, particularly our elderly ones and we are losing trade as a result.

“Any money they get just goes on buying bottles of cider. Every morning, I have to get in early to sort out the bins they have emptied through the night.

“If I approach them, I just get a mouthful of abuse. They are blighting the town.”

Amelia Luffrum, project director with Hospitality and Hope, the borough-based food bank and soup kitchen, said the public should only offer beggars food.

She said: “Homelessness is definitely rising from our experience.

“Some of the people who are out in these doorways, asking for money, come to our soup kitchens. They are in genuine need.

“Dependency on drink and drugs is a major issue. Our policy is never to give money. We feed them, give them sleeping bags and clothes, and direct them to different agencies.”

Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton, of the Riverside Police Team, acknowledged there was a problem and said the situation was being monitored.

He added: “We are aware of the issue and are actively working with our partners on how the situation can be addressed, as concerns have been raised around criminality and vulnerability.”

Latest statistics show a 54 per cent rise in people seeking homelessness assistance from the local authority last year, from 187 to 534.

The impact of welfare reforms, including the ‘bedroom tax’, and a struggling economy, are among the reasons for the increase.

Source – Shields Gazette, 20 Jan 2014