New vision revealed for Worcester city centre

Worcester News: Worcester city centre Worcester city centre

A NEW vision for Worcester city centre can today be revealed - which could include longer opening hours for shops, a thriving farmers' market to pull in the tourists and fewer clunky A-boards littering the streets.

A major six-month review into the city centre has just taken place at Worcester City Council outlining a host of ideas to improve shopping, attract more visitors and improve its feel.

The 16-page dossier, created by four politicians for the attention of the council's Labour leadership, suggests:

- Worcester would benefit from longer trading hours for shops, extending footfall into the evening similar to most of continental Europe

- The council should back that up by offering cheaper evening parking, a major marketing drive and WIFI access to encourage people to take advantage

- The city should be capable of hosting a top class farmers' market, with South Quay or outside the historic Guildhall entrance considered good locations

- A major publicity exercise should kick off in a bid to all but rid Worcester of seagulls once and for all

- Traders that leave sacks of rubbish out overnight or for long periods should face "the threat of penalties" to improve the city's image and reduce litter

- Shops that want A-boards should pay a yearly licence fee and be subject to enforcement action if they are placed in poor locations

The blueprint is hinged on exploiting the time 'gap' that exits between the shops closing early evening, and pubs and clubs gearing up for the night.

There is no legislation currently stopping shops from opening later, but few do so because of the costs involved.

But councillors believe if taxpayers' cash was plughted into promoting later opening hours, it could tip the balance on certain days of the week.

The dossier was debated on Wednesday night during a meeting of the city council's scrutiny committee.

Councillor Simon Cronin, who led the review, said: "We've got to find ways of encouraging people to stay in the city, we could start it by launching a trial period on a certain day of the week, with later opening hours for shops and discounts on car parking."

Councillor Joy Squires said: "Extended trading hours was something that came up very strongly in the Future Worcester consultation a couple of years ago.

"Certainly more residents said they wanted shops to open after half-past-five so they could pop into the city for something other than a pub or a club.

"I'm really glad that's being looked at because it needs to be considered seriously, especially with the summer ahead of us."

Councillor Marc Bayliss named cities like Cardiff as being "very successful" in pulling people in during the evening using later trading hours.

The review contains 19 recommendations in total, which also includes encouraging the use of 'pop-up' shops or short-term leases to fill more retail units, and discounted business rates on buildings which have been empty for months on end.

It is being sent to the Labour-led cabinet.

WHAT THE SHOPS THINK

SHOPS in Worcester say they like the idea of extending the city's opening hours - but it must be backed up by council support.

Anja Potze, from Anja Potze Fine Jewellery in Friar Street, is orginally from Holland and said it is common over there.

"In Holland Thursday night is the late night shopping day amd I have to say, it works very well," she said.

"People go into town and see the shops before going for something to eat after.

"For me personally it would be difficult as my son finishes school at six so I'd be snookered straightaway.

"But would be very interesting to see, especially if the council is prepared to push it on, because that is what it needs."

Keith Marshall-Walker, who runs The Paint Box Gallery in Mealcheapen Street said: "I don't do late night openings but I did open on the three Sundays befoe Christmas.

"It's the big events that tend to get people in, for example there's a motoring show on in May, that kind of thing.

"For it to work it may need free parking to be offered, then people may think 'blimey, let's nip down to Worcester', to give it that impetus."

Councillor Geoff Williams, city council deputy leader and the cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: "There's a number of interesting things in the report and the cabinet will look at it very seriously."

Comments (12)

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9:46am Fri 28 Feb 14

Roger5 says...

Good news if it goes ahead. Reduced parking after 5:30 would be a good thing on its own, even without longer shop opening.

Incidentally we need fewer A-boards, not less. Especially in the area around Reindeer court, which had 5 when I walked by this week.
Good news if it goes ahead. Reduced parking after 5:30 would be a good thing on its own, even without longer shop opening. Incidentally we need fewer A-boards, not less. Especially in the area around Reindeer court, which had 5 when I walked by this week. Roger5
  • Score: 6

10:44am Fri 28 Feb 14

PrivateSi says...

All the ideas are good ideas but what if the reduced evening parking and extended hours has a significant, -ve effect on daytime boots on the ground? Business costs will have gone up with no overall net benefit... I'm not saying this WILL happen but it might, to varying extents to various shops..

..But more jobs / hours / shopping time is welcomed by Workers & Consumers... What about the smaller shops that can't afford to stay open like the big boys so find it even harder to compete.... Just the way things are going, I suppose...

Good Luck, hope the changes work and you lessen / profit from those A-boards...
All the ideas are good ideas but what if the reduced evening parking and extended hours has a significant, -ve effect on daytime boots on the ground? Business costs will have gone up with no overall net benefit... I'm not saying this WILL happen but it might, to varying extents to various shops.. ..But more jobs / hours / shopping time is welcomed by Workers & Consumers... What about the smaller shops that can't afford to stay open like the big boys so find it even harder to compete.... Just the way things are going, I suppose... Good Luck, hope the changes work and you lessen / profit from those A-boards... PrivateSi
  • Score: 0

11:31am Fri 28 Feb 14

CJH says...

PrivateSi wrote:
All the ideas are good ideas but what if the reduced evening parking and extended hours has a significant, -ve effect on daytime boots on the ground? Business costs will have gone up with no overall net benefit... I'm not saying this WILL happen but it might, to varying extents to various shops..

..But more jobs / hours / shopping time is welcomed by Workers & Consumers... What about the smaller shops that can't afford to stay open like the big boys so find it even harder to compete.... Just the way things are going, I suppose...

Good Luck, hope the changes work and you lessen / profit from those A-boards...
Private Si, what's happened to you? Not so shouty. Much better. :-)
[quote][p][bold]PrivateSi[/bold] wrote: All the ideas are good ideas but what if the reduced evening parking and extended hours has a significant, -ve effect on daytime boots on the ground? Business costs will have gone up with no overall net benefit... I'm not saying this WILL happen but it might, to varying extents to various shops.. ..But more jobs / hours / shopping time is welcomed by Workers & Consumers... What about the smaller shops that can't afford to stay open like the big boys so find it even harder to compete.... Just the way things are going, I suppose... Good Luck, hope the changes work and you lessen / profit from those A-boards...[/p][/quote]Private Si, what's happened to you? Not so shouty. Much better. :-) CJH
  • Score: 4

12:19pm Fri 28 Feb 14

drowningnotwaving says...

Back in the labour days, spin was used to produce a false feel good factor. When I saw this, I realise nothing has changed. Here we go again, the council saying things like longer opening hours etc which they have no control over. A feel good factor promise which will fizzle out and they will then come out with another one. Something like we want fandangle department store to take over corn market and possibly create 2 million jobs.
I work in Birmingham and I can tell you no one visits worcester anymore because it is a clone town with everdecreasing character, along with names like st martins quarter or cathedral plaza giving it a cheap 80's essex feel.
Back in the labour days, spin was used to produce a false feel good factor. When I saw this, I realise nothing has changed. Here we go again, the council saying things like longer opening hours etc which they have no control over. A feel good factor promise which will fizzle out and they will then come out with another one. Something like we want fandangle department store to take over corn market and possibly create 2 million jobs. I work in Birmingham and I can tell you no one visits worcester anymore because it is a clone town with everdecreasing character, along with names like st martins quarter or cathedral plaza giving it a cheap 80's essex feel. drowningnotwaving
  • Score: 0

12:42pm Fri 28 Feb 14

brooksider says...

Comparing our shopping hours to Cardiff is ludicrous whilst any comparison to the Continent is misleading.

In France, Spain and Italy, shops might open later open but that has to be tempered with the 2 hour lunch breaks when many retailers are closed.

A variety of events like farmers markets and the up and coming vintage fair are needed to differentiate Worcester from other provincial towns.

Updating the VisitWorcester website might help, there is no excuse for advertising events that happened last year and for not listing any for 2014.
Comparing our shopping hours to Cardiff is ludicrous whilst any comparison to the Continent is misleading. In France, Spain and Italy, shops might open later open but that has to be tempered with the 2 hour lunch breaks when many retailers are closed. A variety of events like farmers markets and the up and coming vintage fair are needed to differentiate Worcester from other provincial towns. Updating the VisitWorcester website might help, there is no excuse for advertising events that happened last year and for not listing any for 2014. brooksider
  • Score: 5

1:02pm Fri 28 Feb 14

YailBloor50 says...

How is a publicity campaign going to rid the city of Seagulls? Being birds, I wouldn't think that bad PR would bother them too much. Also, what does 'plughted' mean? Has Newsquest made all of WN’s subs redundant?
How is a publicity campaign going to rid the city of Seagulls? Being birds, I wouldn't think that bad PR would bother them too much. Also, what does 'plughted' mean? Has Newsquest made all of WN’s subs redundant? YailBloor50
  • Score: 2

1:57pm Fri 28 Feb 14

delica says...

went to Orlando last year and most shops are open until 11.00 -12.00pm every day and sundays not 5 or 6 it's about time the uk got in line with everyone else . I work long hours and do find it had to get in to town before most of the shops close.
went to Orlando last year and most shops are open until 11.00 -12.00pm every day and sundays not 5 or 6 it's about time the uk got in line with everyone else . I work long hours and do find it had to get in to town before most of the shops close. delica
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Fri 28 Feb 14

liketoknow says...

sounds fine in theory. will they improve public transport to encourage shoppers?
sounds fine in theory. will they improve public transport to encourage shoppers? liketoknow
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Fri 28 Feb 14

140354 says...

A few weeks ago people were objecting that A-Boards were an unsightly blight on the city streets not to mention a physical obstruction... Now it seems that this is all acceptable as long as the council gets money from them! How is this a solution to the people actually affected by them? It rather demonstrates the council's true priorities.
A solution might be a sign post system rather like the ones used to locate the library etc which would be funded by the shops that wished to be included. These would be useful to visitors to the city and not an inconvenience to those who live here and really don't need to know the direction to the nearest nail bar or whatever.
A few weeks ago people were objecting that A-Boards were an unsightly blight on the city streets not to mention a physical obstruction... Now it seems that this is all acceptable as long as the council gets money from them! How is this a solution to the people actually affected by them? It rather demonstrates the council's true priorities. A solution might be a sign post system rather like the ones used to locate the library etc which would be funded by the shops that wished to be included. These would be useful to visitors to the city and not an inconvenience to those who live here and really don't need to know the direction to the nearest nail bar or whatever. 140354
  • Score: 3

6:39pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Landy44 says...

"But councillors believe if taxpayers' cash was plughted into promoting later opening hours, it could tip the balance on certain days of the week."

I'd advise the local councillors to stop playing "fast and loose" with taxpayers (ie OUR) cash and stay out of things that they clearly know nothing about.

Yes, evening shopping hours works well in some cities, but lets not kid ourselves. Sadly, Worcester has a pretty poor shopping experience (despite some of the local independent shops doing their best) at the best of times. Spending more of OUR money trying to prop it up isn't a good use of OUR money when you don't have enough to go around as it is! It seems you STILL haven't learnt YOUR lesson!
"But councillors believe if taxpayers' cash was plughted into promoting later opening hours, it could tip the balance on certain days of the week." I'd advise the local councillors to stop playing "fast and loose" with taxpayers (ie OUR) cash and stay out of things that they clearly know nothing about. Yes, evening shopping hours works well in some cities, but lets not kid ourselves. Sadly, Worcester has a pretty poor shopping experience (despite some of the local independent shops doing their best) at the best of times. Spending more of OUR money trying to prop it up isn't a good use of OUR money when you don't have enough to go around as it is! It seems you STILL haven't learnt YOUR lesson! Landy44
  • Score: 2

9:16pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Small Town says...

What the chuffs wrong with an A-board?

I don't think you'll find it's the likes of H&M, Marks and Sparks or TK Max who use them and rely on this on this innovative form of marketing. No it's our local businesses, our cafés like the one up the steps near Huntingdon Hall and our vintage clothes stores, independents that are fighting for attention above the volume of nation TV and billboard campaigns.

Kill our A-boards and you'll only serve to increase the androgynous state of our high street.
What the chuffs wrong with an A-board? I don't think you'll find it's the likes of H&M, Marks and Sparks or TK Max who use them and rely on this on this innovative form of marketing. No it's our local businesses, our cafés like the one up the steps near Huntingdon Hall and our vintage clothes stores, independents that are fighting for attention above the volume of nation TV and billboard campaigns. Kill our A-boards and you'll only serve to increase the androgynous state of our high street. Small Town
  • Score: -2

8:49am Sun 2 Mar 14

Angelaveroinica says...

Small businesses in Worcester pay £2.00 for each rubbish sack they use to Worcester Council. The sacks are collected at approximately 7 am on weekdays. Not at weekends. With the greatest respect perhaps the 16 page dossier by Worcester City council should look at collecting rubbish sacks in the evenings.. The council are suggesting that small businesses work late into the evening then return to work before 7 am to put their rubbish sacks out. £2.00 per sack in my business equates to £500 per year. I suggest that the council look at there expensive and poor service not at fining traders because the council provide an inadequate service.
Small businesses in Worcester pay £2.00 for each rubbish sack they use to Worcester Council. The sacks are collected at approximately 7 am on weekdays. Not at weekends. With the greatest respect perhaps the 16 page dossier by Worcester City council should look at collecting rubbish sacks in the evenings.. The council are suggesting that small businesses work late into the evening then return to work before 7 am to put their rubbish sacks out. £2.00 per sack in my business equates to £500 per year. I suggest that the council look at there expensive and poor service not at fining traders because the council provide an inadequate service. Angelaveroinica
  • Score: 1

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