It’s been another busy week getting out and about throughout the constituency, revisiting issues that affect us here, and honing and advancing plans on a whole range of fronts that I am taking forward, including with the return of the House of Commons in September.
I am trying to get all stakeholders to focus on how we can really spur growth and dynamism for the future of our area. High Streets across the country are in a period of reinvention. The Yeovil Refresh project needs to make a diffeence and drive actual regenerative transformation. That is what the £9.75 million of Future High Streets funding I got for it from national government was for. Total Glovers Walk & Bus Station redevelopment was key to the whole thing. I am concerned about the Lib Dem Council's running of the project and now their attempt to change its scope.
At the time of writing they have not spoken to the owners of the Glovers Walk and Bus Station for a year and a half and they are seeking to reallocate the national funding pot away from that site and the Cattle Market without saying what they will do with the money except in unspecific terms about public realm, "active travel", phosphates and other building investment.
Local businesses need to see results that get lots more people living in as well as visiting the town centre. They also need to be made good or make good for the disturbance caused by the works. They don't want to see money being tipped into filling of literal and figurative holes the Council has dug for itself.
I am pressing via the Department for Communities for them to give details of what they actually plan, but as at time of writing they have failed to do so.
I am told they may reveal new cycle route plans for the town centre, but the issues that people raise with me are about empty retail units, anti-social behaviour and parking for the cars that people use to get in out of the town. No one has said to me that what the shops, cafes and restaurants really need is cycle lanes. Anti-car policy was not what the Future High Streets funding was for.
You might be able to find out more and give feedback to the Council and others at a drop in session run by Love Yeovil at the Quedam Centre on the 22nd August between 10 and 3pm.
It's sad news the Pittards have signalled they intend to appoint administrators if they can't sell or retstructure the business. The leather goods maker has a rich heritage and that industry is of course why we have The Glovers. I have been in touch with them for some time and tried to help with export finance but their bank wouldn't allow it. Whilst a process has to be gone through now, I hope that solutions can be found to allow them to get through this difficult time and the amazing skills, dedicated staff and good niche global market positions will be attractive for new owners to support.
In recent days I've had good discussions at the Gateway, Citizens Advice and with others about issues people are facing and ideas we might be able to work on together to help with them.
It has also been a pleasure to visit Crewkerne, the Seavingtons and Lopen and meet with Conservative Councillors to talk about a range of local authority matters we work together on.