Stoke & Staffordshire

Plea to 'revitalise' Tamworth town centre

A Staffordshire town centre "needs to be revitalised", according to a borough council's opposition Labour group.

Tamworth town centre "cannot effectively compete on even terms" with the Ventura Park out-of-town facility, Labour group leader John Faulkner said.

He added that smaller shops and housing in the town centre were needed.

Daniel Cook, Conservative leader of the council, agreed and said it was looking at providing better bus services and improving a town centre walkway.

'Five-minute walk'

Tamworth Borough Council is made up of 22 Conservative members, seven Labour members and an independent.

Speaking to Mr Faulkner on a BBC WM radio discussion, Mr Cook said: "We have to fundamentally realise that Ventura is now the retail centre. There is no fighting that.

"I want to stop believing that our town centre and Ventura are [in] competition. I want to find a way of complementing the two.

"It's literally a five-minute walk from Ventura to the town centre. We're investing shortly in that walkway to make it more attractive. It would mean you walk through our castle grounds.

"Once we've got people in the town, they're not doing their shopping and leaving. They're staying for the day and enjoying the entire offer."

In response, Mr Faulkner said he did not think there were "a great deal of people" who would want to walk between Ventura Park and the town centre.

'Their community'

He suggested having more people living in modern houses and flats within the town centre and using local shops.

Mr Faulkner added: "We need small shops, small cafes. We need housing with people actually living in the town centre so... basically it is their community."

Asked later about their comments, Liberal Democrat candidate Jenny Pinkett said: "Lib Dems have been on about this for years.

"We don't feel the other parties have anticipated the changing nature of retail and the changing need for our town centre to address that."

She said having free parking for at least an hour a day on town centre car parks would encourage people to go into the small independent shops in the centre.

The one independent member, Chris Cooke, who is not up for election this year, said: "If the council are serious about revitalising the town centre, then perhaps they would be getting rid of or reducing the car parking charges."

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