The following open letter was originally sent to The Bolton News on 30th April 2015.
It was written in response to requests that I make my feelings clear on planned developments in the town centre. I know that many people are interested in this matter and that the debate on these plans will continue for some time, so I wanted to make this public again in a place that is easy to find.
For the record I am in agreement that Bolton Town Centre has seen better days after all I raised this issue in 2012 and was heavily criticised by local councillors on all sides at the time for speaking out.
There are many reasons for our town’s decline. We have been through exceptionally difficult economic times, shopping habits have radically changed including internet and out of town shopping. There has clearly not been enough investment in the town and decisions like the changes made to the Market Hall have not helped.
But we need to be constructive looking forward not backwards producing solutions not blame. To keep running down what is at the heart an excellent town centre just won’t help, it is irresponsible and we must remember small local businesses can do without these constant attacks. We have some magnificent buildings to protect and if we get things right we can restore our precinct as a facility to be proud of, but only by listening to the people of Bolton.
The proposals by the Civic Trust are first class and I support them in opposing changes to the façade of the Town Hall. As for Cheadle Square we need more green space in the Town not less.
The people of Bolton have the imagination and the will to reverse the decline and we should collectively get behind a better plan for our town that takes us forward not backwards because this is too important an issue to play political football with.