Column: Shop local before clicking to buy

John Mann
John Mann

Where do you intend to shop in the future? It is the biggest issue in determining what the future of our town centres will be, yet it is hardly discussed.

Everyone seems to complain about the range of shops in Worksop town centre but most are happy to jump into their car to go to Meadowhall or Doncaster to shop.

I was in the Frenchgate centre with Royle Family actor, Ricky Tomlinson at a train drivers union event last Thursday and half of Worksop seemed to be shopping there.

Meanwhile Amazon with its tax avoiding overseas base and its recently exposed working conditions continues to lead the online shopping surge.

More and more of us are ordering from the internet and I have no doubt that this trend will increase.

I hate nothing more than being dragged round shops and being asked to try this or that on.

We have a new Asda in Harworth and a new Morrison’s being built in Worksop and both are very popular, as is the proposed new Asda in Worksop.

Aldi is the fastest growing supermarket in the country because it is perceived to be the best value for money.

As households have less money, most people are looking for cheaper prices and bargains and you can hardly blame any family for doing precisely that.

The one growth in consumer spending in our area is on new cars, but I suspect that this is mainly people who have held off replacing their car for as long as possible. Even my old banger cannot survive forever!

Even estate agents now mainly operate online, with prospective buyers able to view properties from their computer and then search out the immediate surroundings again on the internet as everyone’s property is available to view for free Google.

I have warned on several occasions before about the loss of public sector jobs in our town centres and the certainty that other jobs will be moved to single and cheaper bases.

My warnings are coming true as council staff, government staff, tax offices and others are being concentrated in single centres.

Sensibly Bassetlaw Council has encouraged other organisations to move into its offices creating a revenue stream for itself.

The dilemma remains stark, how do we keep our town centres viable when shopping trends are changing.

Attractions such as the cinema are part of the solution and it has been a huge success.

Similarly a rejuvenated market down Bridge Street has succeeded - I noticed that I first called for this move as long ago as 2003.

I will repeat what I also said then and have repeated since: the canal in Worksop must become the key attraction in Worksop’s town centre.

In my view the future of Worksop as a destination for shopping and leisure is based on the importance of the canal.

Get that right in the next five years and our town centre will thrive. But it will take bold decisions to make this happen, not merely plastering over the cracks.

In this cold weather I have noted a number of public buildings with their windows open.

I propose that every building be checked for its optimal heating level and where appropriate the heating is turned down.

I succeeded in Parliament in getting the thermostat lowered and I would ask that you report to me any public building that has its windows open on a cold winter’s day so that I can press for an easy cost saving.