May 9, 2016 by Whispering Smith
Whispering smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette May 5th 2016
Regeneration. The word conjures up a vision of complete change, one minute it is Matt Smith and the next, Peter Capaldi. How do we regenerate our town centre? Currently the High Street has two book, craft and stationers – one is great value if you really are into James Bond and Game of Thrones among other comic book heroes – two betting shops, a supermarket, four tea, coffee and cake outlets, three charity shops, a nail beauty shop, a hardware store in competition with two cheapo bargain shops selling similar wares at a fraction of the price. Oh, and a pet shop that is, among other things, a home for a very big snake and a lizard. We have a health food shop, three large chemists and frequent unwelcome street entertainment from the Littlehampton Wine Club which appears to have expanded its membership of late. Not a very inspiring or inviting town centre. We could certainly use a greater variety of retail shops but having learned that the little grocery store on the corner of my street has to pay a business rate of around £7,000 a year for which they get little for their money, not even council help to clear the pavement pigeon poo. With this in mind I cannot see many excited small or large business owners getting in line to rent or buy on our High Street and suggestions of a cinema and allied leisure facilities are, frankly, pie in the sky. Radical thinking is required and a new start rather than an idealistically hopeful patching up with a raft of suggestions and ideas that the council has no money for and, perhaps, little real desire to provide.
YOU know you are getting old when you trip over your own feet at the allotment and just lay there looking at the sky and thinking that a big fluffy white cloud looks a lot like a poodle.