I regularly get asked about Accrington Town Centre. This is a summary of my view.
Town centre shopping habits have changed over the decades and many retailers just can’t make money anymore from the high street. The internet, out of town shopping centres and stores and supermarkets have all changed shopping habits. Ironically BM bargains have opened up a bigger store, hence why the smaller one is shutting. M&S after years of decline are focusing on new one stop shop, out of town supermarket shopping offer.
Sadly previous councils have made the huge mistake of expanding Hyndburns basic retail offer. They failed to have any vision at all. I have sat in many a meeting disappointed at the poor decisions taken.
The previous Tory council had huge amounts of funding from central government but shut down the Broadway cinema for more shops, knocked down the brilliant concrete market and built more shops, turned down or turned away up market town centre residential developments and relocated the bus station. They spent £600,000 on a failed website that shut down after just 4 months and sent a £300,000 on a loo very few people used.
The Labour plan is to reverse that thinking however deep Tory cuts to Council funding have resulted in a reliance on private sector or grant funding. The view is to attract more leisure, more office space and more residential and rather than focus on unattractive new developments, refurbish our wonderful old buildings. One simple measure has been to put the Accrington Pals fascia over the ugly 1960's building that sprawls Broadway.
The grounds of St James have been made far more attractive and a Heritage Lottery £3m programme, out to consultation to refurbish Blackburn Road is underway. The new rail link has been added and we are having to pick up the pieces left by the Tories of relocating the bus station.