Pounds in pockets can save High Street

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I refer to the Soap Box article last week by Councillor Ron Smith in which he gives a fair analysis of the problems afflicting Hawick High Street.

He then announces the proposal to create “Core Activity Areas” in designated stretches to increase footfall.

Buzz words aside I’m sure most people would welcome any initiative likely to improve matters. However, full consultation would be necessary with all businesses.

Quite often we have seen activity taking place in one area of the High Street that resulted in reducing the footfall in other parts.

Another factor which most shopkeepers keep telling me about is the lack of cash their customers have to spend in their shops. This is not mentioned in Councillor Smith’s analysis.

The latest NOMIS official profile of the Scottish Borders economy published last week paints a sorry picture. The average weekly pay for full-time workers in the Scottish Borders is £43.8 below the Scottish average and £58.5 below the average for Great Britain.

Unfortunately these figures have not been broken down for the Hawick area but it is safe to say it will be worse than the rest of the Borders.

If, as claimed by some leading politicians, this country now has a cost of living crisis this must mean that many people in our area are in dire circumstances.

The proposal to create a different style of High Street certainly has merit, but in answer to Councillor Smith’s question “Are you ready for it?” Yes, but it is unlikely to be viable until people have money to spend.

ANDREW FARQUHAR