It’s at least thirty years since the borough council said that it was intending to create a service road behind the shops on the east side of the High Street. The road would enable deliveries to be made to the rear of the shops, thus making it easier to pedestrianise the High Street itself.
Since then, virtually nothing has been done. The old Hoover Spares building behind the High Street has been acquired by the council and demolished – apparently mainly because it was an eyesore, and not because it was in the way of any service road. More recently, a fence has appeared roughly where the back of the now-demolished building would have been. This hardly looks like progress towards creating any new access.
The evil thought occurs to us that it’s no longer automatically in the council’s interest to improve the High Street. The council now owns the Mall, and presumably the council would prefer to attract tenants to empty shops in the Mall rather than see them move into the High Street. The council would also prefer shoppers to spend their money in the Mall rather than elsewhere in the town. Of course, it’ll be argued that anything that brings shoppers into the town will be good, wherever they shop. But if the council is to run the Mall as a commercial operation, it’ll have to operate competitively. Hard luck, High Street?