A Total Waste Of Public Money!
Whenever a huge monetary grant for 'improving' a faltering town centre is given by national government, such as that given to West Northants Council for Northampton Town Centre, you will see swarms of so-called 'consultants' gathering there, like flies around a fresh horse manure, eager to suck their share. Hired anonymous 'suits' with few principles; 'yes-men' eager to plan whatever a council wants, in order to get their snouts in the trough and get well paid.
Among their grandiose plans this time is a ribbon of fountains down one side of the market, this alone costing £668,000, I'm told, and costing around £1,000 every week to keep clean, maintain, and run. With no public toilets open in the town centre at night, you know what these fountains will be used for. What a total waste of public money!
These yes-men are ready to make grandiloquent plans for any ideas good or bad thought up by the ruling council, including plans on how to rid itself of what that council may think of as an 'old-fashioned' market. This is not the first time this has been proposed. One of the excuses given by the 'consultants' this time is that the marketplace has fallen into disrepute, with groups of gamblers hanging around outside the betting-shops, and beggars begging on street corners, and dealers furtively dealing amongst the empty stalls. This is a problem of society of course, and has little to do with markets. But it suits the purpose of these yes-men consultants to use it as an excuse.
As we have seen before when the Lib-Dems removed stalls and replaced them with latte tables and a fountain at the bottom of the market, this did not change the street-life, only made it worse. These same people came and sat at the empty tables and smoked and drank and dealt substances, and there were more of them there than ever before. So whatever is done in the way of making an empty layout, it will only encourage these dubious characters. If you give them an empty space they will use it for their own ends. But if you make a busy bustling market with lots of stalls and lots of shoppers hurrying about, full of activity, these characters will keep away.
Instead of encouraging and attracting market traders to the town, Northampton councils of all political shades since the early 2000's have seemed to be intent on doing away with the actual market, the stalls and traders, although still clinging to the idea of an historic Market Square. But a Market Square is nothing without a market; it is just a pale ghost of the past instead of a vibrant, living entity. Whatever are these yes-men thinking of, with all this utter nonsense of making an empty 'public space' where there was once a living market? Don't they know that the public do not flock to empty spaces? If they did, the parks would be teeming with people all day, every day.
The public will only visit an empty space when it is filled with some event that has an attraction for them, especially an event they can spend some time looking around, hunting for bargains. Like a big, flourishing, vibrant market. In tough times of hardship for ordinary folk, like in the belt-tightening months and years which are predicted to lie ahead of us, a big and diverse market will be a necessity for many people, to help their sparse incomes stretch a little further. But this will be denied to the people of Northampton, who will see whatever market they now have left relegated by West Northants Council to a distant car park for at least two years, to be neglected and decimated in a forgotten place that few shoppers will ever visit. It is doubtful if any of the current market traders will survive two years there.
Such a move will not only see the demise of our existing stall-holders and their businesses and their hard-working staff, making many people jobless, but it will also deprive enterprising members of our local Northampton community of the opportunity to make a start in a small business of their own on the Market Square, as many of us have done in the past.
It can be clearly seen that West Northants Council are guilty of deliberately missing the wonderful opportunity of using some of this government improvement grant to give back to Northampton a big and flourishing vibrant market in its own central Market Square. Such an attraction would bring in people and businesses from all around the County, and encourage the setting up of new shops and small businesses in the Town, and see trade in Northampton flourishing again.