Last night at Kettering Borough Council’s Executive Committee I was allowed to address them about the conference they are setting up with local businesses and stakeholders to discuss the future of the town centre.
I told them I was excited by the initiative, and thanked them for putting on the event. As many know, I have had concerns about Kettering’s retail sector and town centre for many years. The truth is retailing and town centres are changing. This is a national trend but how we cope with these changes as businesses evolve is very much a local issue.
The Council have done some great things in the town centre and supported things like last week’s Women’s Tour Cycle Race and KettFest. However more needs to be done and it is not enough to sit back and wait for business to step up themselves. There needs to be genuine partnership working with Kettering Borough Council taking a strong lead.
The session in September is a good start to that but I did point out discussions need to continue. It isn’t enough to hold a conference, assume everything will happen automatically and just sit back and wait. Although in fairness the Council’s leadership seems to acknowledge that, and I am hopeful this could be the start of something genuinely beneficial to the town.
I hope that, as was acknowledged last night, that this is something all Councillors from all parties can support and work together for the benefit of the town. I did also make the point that if this is the way forward for Kettering it could also perhaps be the way forward for Desborough’s town centre which also faces some real challenges, as I’m sure Burton and Rothwell do too.