Spalding and District Civic Society have many positive suggestions regarding the job of Spalding town centre manager. Here they put their case for the appointment.
We all know an attractive town centre when we see one. We want to take a photograph or revisit it. But even in picture-postcard centres things deteriorate with age or get damaged. So who, in Spalding, is responsible for putting things right exactly?
Damaged seating in Hall Place? That’s County Highways. Block paving bodged with tarmac? Not Highways this time, but BT or Anglian Water or whichever utility company dug it up four weeks ago.
Black sacks dumped at the corner of the Sheepmarket? Not the council: it’s private land.
The more one looks the more bewildering it becomes. Seating may be a County Highways responsibility in Hall Place, but in the Market Place it’s the district council’s. The cycle stands in New Road are the county’s; those by the Sheepmarket toilets the SHDC’s. The litter bins in Red Lion Street are the County’s, but not those in the Market Place. Why? Much of it seems to be a question of land ownership.
And the big planters in Hall Place? The wooden planters themselves are a County Highways installation, but the plants …? Are they the responsibility of the SHDC Parks Department, Spalding in Bloom, or Spalding Round Table and the other charities with plates on the sides?
Traffic signs are dealt with by County Highways – unless, that is, they’re illuminated, when they come under its street lighting sub-division. But if it’s the poles that support the Christmas lights festoons, then they’re the district council’s. And although they’re obviously part of the overall appearance of the town centre (like everything else here), graffiti and fly-posting come under different SHDC departments – unless the graffiti is on private property, when “we can’t do anything” …… Enough!
Starting from scratch, who on earth would devise such a system?
Most people care about their urban environment. It is easy to grumble about shortcomings, but if one tries to do any more, one is faced by all this bewildering fragmentation. How do you know who to contact? There are almost a dozen different local authority departments and utilities to choose from.
The need is for a single port of call, a single contact for any concern about the town centre, whatever its nature. The district council does provide such a service, customer services, who should see your concern passed on to the department responsible, including LCC departments.
And if the matter is not dealt with? Then you have to go through the whole process again …… and again …… By when even the most public-spirited may give up, due to the hassle.
It’s more than a single port of call that is therefore needed. You need to know that the person to whom you are reporting your concern will personally pursue it, and keep on pursuing it with the relevant department, until it has been addressed. Someone with a direct responsibility for the town centre as a whole. Co-ordination. Overview.
And, equally important, someone to whom one can put suggestions for improvements: a tree here, a cycle rack or a seat there, a rearrangement of the market stalls.
In short, a town centre manager.
Only if there is an easy, direct route to a known person are ordinary people likely to play an active and positive part in helping to create and maintain a lively, handsome centre for the whole community.