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176,000 population should be enough for a WH Smith
THE questions over why WH Smith is deciding to close its St Helens store (as reported in last week’s Star) have to be asked.
Let us be honest here, we all know that shopping patterns have changed, but it is also worth asking how many other WH Smith stores are planning to close in the next few weeks.
I find the situation all the more amazing given that with a population of 176,000 or so in St Helens there isn’t enough custom to keep a shop like WH Smith in business.
It is not as if there is much other high street competition in St Helens unlike many other towns.
Warrington may not have any cheap parking, but what they do have is a range of stores which people want to shop at, many of which are completely absent from both the St Helens high street and the retail parks for that matter.
The leader of St Helens Council, according to his portfolio brief, has strategic responsibility for St Helens town centre.
I’m not sure exactly what that might actually entail, but one of the things he perhaps could do is to reinstate the post of the town centre manager which was scrapped some time ago.
This would mean a hands-on person can look at the strategic management of the town centre more effectively as it once was.
A town centre manager could actually hold an inquiry, invite members of the public and the business community to send in their views and ideas as to how things could be changed.
I see none of this happening under the current leadership which is sad, even though some time ago there was supposed to be some sort of group set up with the business community to look at some of the issues.
I look forward to hearing from the dynamic proposals coming from the council leader’s office soon with regards to addressing the decline of the town centre and to see if he would be willing to implement some of the ideas which I have suggested as an initial step.
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