I will start by saying I believe in Andover, I settled here in 94 when I left the Army, I now have a family and enjoy living here. In my view Andover’s first strength is its position from here I can be across the country in a few hours and back home same day. I also like the greenery around the area too many towns are becoming concrete jungles with identical shopping malls.
From the very early days of the Andover Town Council the public and Councillors alike expressed concerns about the Andover town centre. While I worked on the campaign for a Town Council my expectation was that we’d take on Local Challenges such as this so I personally believe that it is for the Andover Town Council to address this issue where it can. My assessment is that it is a complex problem and there is no magic solution and with limited resources we cannot do this on our own.
The popular consensus was that increasing the footfall in the town centre would encourage businesses to the town. Cllr Karen Hamilton organised a number of Community Days in unison with the Farmers market. I’d say these were successful days but need to continue to keep the pressure on. Another way forward we are working on is the Town Centre Manager collaboration with TVBC and HCC, recruitment is underway so watch this space. If this is to work we [and I mean Andover Public, Businesses, and Gov] need to get behind the idea.
I’d like to also comment about what can and cannot be done. We can’t tell business what to do [including landlords] nor can we create unfair advantages to favourite businesses and we can’t force members of the public to shop in the Town Centre. I do expect 21st solutions to surface such as Wi-Fi, Apps, and online environments and I believe if Andover embraces the future we will blossom.
So how have I shopped recently? Amazon, Argos, Supermarkets, but I do go most days to our local shop at the end of the park, I pop into town for DIY bits, groceries, clothes, watches, mobile phones, and at the last farmers market I bought bread, relish, pate and a joint of meat that was a better price than the supermarkets, I’d add that coffee is good at more than a few places as are eateries.
Lastly I’d ask readers, who want a thriving Town Centre to shop, eat, drink, and visit the Town Centre when you can. I welcome ideas based in reality [not the 1970s] with real resources.
Geoffrey McBride BSc [Hons] GSM
Chairman Andover Town Council