Save Our High Streets
Something needs to be done about the state of our High Streets. Especially Union Street in Aberdeen. I know there are all sorts of projects in “talk” stage but come on – is it that difficult? The longer it is left in the state that it is then the worse it will get, surely?
I moved to Aberdeen almost 20 years ago and the main thoroughfare – Union Street – was a bustling city centre, a strong beating heart at the centre of Aberdeen – The Oil Capital Of Europe. That is a stark contrast to what it is today – empty units, bargain pound shops, betting shops and pawnbroker type shops.
I know the world has changed, the oil industry is facing tough times and the way we shop has changed. I accept that the increase of online shopping has resulted in the demise of major retailers such as Woolworths and also that most big retailers want to move into fancy new shopping centres such as Union Square. I have no problem with this and I quite happily spend most of my lunchtime wandering around the shops in Union Square. However, it is leaving these empty units on the high street and allowing other “pop-up shops” to easily take up the space.
So, Aberdeen City council have “plans” to rejuvenate Union Street by pedestrianizing it, creating a civic square blah blah blah. Wealthy businessmen such as Sir Ian Wood offered, on a plate, £50 million to Aberdeen City Council for them to go off and “decorate the city” but they couldn’t pull their fingers out and decide on what paint to even use and they lost the lot! I could have a whole series of posts devoted to the idiotic decisions of the council!
Now, “what if” I was in charge (yes, God help us all!)
I would take a complete U Turn and go back to the olden days. I don’t mean re-introducing horses and carts or wearing top hats and tails to go shopping, what I mean is bring back all the independent shops to the city centre. All the little boutique shops that are hidden in side streets who have survived these changing and hard times need to come back to the front – that’s how Woolworths started off after all is it not? These type of shops offer unique products & services that can’t easily be found elsewhere and would surely bring back the bustle to our high streets.
Using Aberdeen as an example, shops such as Nova Gifts, Peapod, Juniper & Millsom and Main* to name just a few. Sure, the fact they are small may mean they cannot afford the rent it would cost to be on the high street, so, instead of the councils spending all their money on the coffee and biscuits they have during their “rejuvenation meetings” they could lower the rents for the units on the high street to an affordable price for these small businesses.
To back up the fact that this could be a success Millsom and Main have recently moved onto Union Terrace, 10 metres from Union Street and have seen a major increase in profit!
I would also spend the £2 million that the council want to spend on a deep clean on a much better investment and let the criminals tidy this up for free – bring back chain gangs I say.
Just my thoughts – but what do I know?
I think the image I have created sums up this post quite well. It is a photo I made of merging Aberdeen past and present.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and “your High Street”. Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014