Letter: Kendal must not become a ghost town

First published in Opinion

Kendal must not become a ghost town In 1997 Kendal was voted top of the list of the most attractive towns in the United Kingdom, placing Stratford-Upon-Avon, Chester, York into second, third and fourth positions respectively.

Anyone visiting Kendal today, walking from the bottom of Kirkland through to the far end of Strickland-gate, could be forgiven for thinking they had come to the wrong town.

The number of dilapidated buildings, empty business and shop premises, pubs with For Sale/To Let signs on them have created the atmosphere of a town that has obviousy seen ‘better days’.

Every week, this newspaper is full of letters, not just from residents but also from visitors, accusing the council of blatant overcharging from every-thing to car parking to excessive business rates that small shopkeepers simply cannot afford to pay and find themselves having to shut up shop or go out of business.

Public lavatories, if you can find any, now have a 20p charge! It is little wonder so many visitors write to say they will never visit this area again.

Although I am Cumbrian born and bred, I spent a few of my early years growing up and living in a town called Plympton, very near to the city of Plymouth. A few years ago, visiting old friends, I was saddened to see the main high street known as The Ridgeway seemingly beginning to slide downwards in a similar position of present-day Kendal.

However, a few weeks ago I returned to Plympton and was amazed to see the town has become a thriving, successful, busy and prospering market town again.

I could not find an empty shop or business premise - every one appears to have a thriving livelihood. The place was thronged with people all doing their shopping. There was not even a charity shop on the high street, there is obviously no demand for one.

How has this come about? The local council did a U-turn. Noticing that things were descending into a downward spiral, they drastically cut business rates, demolished the old properties that were falling into dis-repair and turned the land into a giant car park.

You may find this hard to believe, but the parking is free. Not only are the lavatories free as well, but they have hot running water in them.

It would appear the local council has discovered that the income they receive from a full quota of business premises more than compensates the loss that they could possibly make from introducing excessive car parking charges that only succeed in forcing locals to go out of town and do their shopping in the big industrial estates.

South Lakeland District Council needs to wake up and re-think its policies, before they turn Kendal into a ghost town.

Michael Brooks, Kendal

Comments (13)

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11:15am Sat 10 Nov 12

Desdan says...

Is that Tumble weed I see blowing down Stricklandgate??
Is that Tumble weed I see blowing down Stricklandgate?? Desdan
  • Score: 0

6:49pm Sat 10 Nov 12

zaney5 says...

Couldn't put it better myself.
Couldn't put it better myself. zaney5
  • Score: 0

1:51pm Sun 11 Nov 12

BillP says...

Very well written. No toilets but new pavements! It is about time that the council started representing the people of Kendal.
Very well written. No toilets but new pavements! It is about time that the council started representing the people of Kendal. BillP
  • Score: 0

9:44pm Sun 11 Nov 12

gingerdog says...

Orange pavements ??? In the Auld grey town it looks awful like a bad fake tan new parking meters are impossible to fathom out. I gave up and went home. I live in kendal born here travel with my job when i tell ppl im from kendal they comment on the changes say it's ruined and wont be coming back hope our councilors are happy now they have killed our once beutifull and proud working town centre
Orange pavements ??? In the Auld grey town it looks awful like a bad fake tan new parking meters are impossible to fathom out. I gave up and went home. I live in kendal born here travel with my job when i tell ppl im from kendal they comment on the changes say it's ruined and wont be coming back hope our councilors are happy now they have killed our once beutifull and proud working town centre gingerdog
  • Score: 0

3:17pm Mon 12 Nov 12

bantambelle says...

What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre.

Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!!

The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well!

And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!!
What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre. Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!! The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well! And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!! bantambelle
  • Score: 0

9:25pm Mon 12 Nov 12

Reverend Mark says...

bantambelle wrote:
What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre.

Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!!

The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well!

And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!!
And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!!

Go and tell that to the Marines!
[quote][p][bold]bantambelle[/bold] wrote: What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre. Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!! The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well! And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!![/p][/quote]And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!! Go and tell that to the Marines! Reverend Mark
  • Score: 0

9:50pm Mon 12 Nov 12

BillP says...

There was no debate on closing the public toilets, it was just done. If you are a visitor to kendal, it is difficult to find out who is participating in this community toilet scheme. Public toilets are the mark of a civilised society.
I'm not surprised that tourists give it a miss now.
There was no debate on closing the public toilets, it was just done. If you are a visitor to kendal, it is difficult to find out who is participating in this community toilet scheme. Public toilets are the mark of a civilised society. I'm not surprised that tourists give it a miss now. BillP
  • Score: 0

11:45pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Kent123 says...

bantambelle wrote:
What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre.

Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!!

The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well!

And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!!
Business rates do go to central government BUT a similar amount is given back by central government to local authorities (including South Lakeland).
[quote][p][bold]bantambelle[/bold] wrote: What rot! Kendal is a great town to live and work in with a good mix of shops and cafes. All this negative claptrap is damaging and not good publicity for our businesses and town centre. Kendal was rated 'Top Place to Live' on Channel 4's website this year so it can't be that bad!!! The author of the letter needs to check his facts.... Business rates go direct to the Government, we've had the toilet debate before - there is a community toilet scheme which is a help and the shopping industrial estate to the north is hardly doing well! And who's ever heard of Plympton anyway!!!![/p][/quote]Business rates do go to central government BUT a similar amount is given back by central government to local authorities (including South Lakeland). Kent123
  • Score: 0

1:58am Wed 14 Nov 12

rosebush40 says...

Down here in NZ we have local boards of the council which have approachable councillors to givve your views, etc. Many local works must be notified at this level so the community knowswhat to expect. Some initiatives are as a direct result of ratepayers' views and requests. Is it not a similar system in the UK? Instead of writing to the papers, can you not write to your councillors, attend local meetings, and at worst, petition the council? I often wonder why my local paper herre in NZ is often the first port of call for ratepayers when it is to the loccal councillors that they should be speaking. I see we have that much in common. Write to your local (elected) officials and request a response.
Down here in NZ we have local boards of the council which have approachable councillors to givve your views, etc. Many local works must be notified at this level so the community knowswhat to expect. Some initiatives are as a direct result of ratepayers' views and requests. Is it not a similar system in the UK? Instead of writing to the papers, can you not write to your councillors, attend local meetings, and at worst, petition the council? I often wonder why my local paper herre in NZ is often the first port of call for ratepayers when it is to the loccal councillors that they should be speaking. I see we have that much in common. Write to your local (elected) officials and request a response. rosebush40
  • Score: 0

9:50am Wed 14 Nov 12

MJ-kendal says...

I think the lack of toilets is the biggest shame in a tourist area. Kendal is lovely, but the first thing I need after a trip to visit somewhere is a toilet so the family can relax and enjoy the location.

I was recently in Derbyshire, and found that the toilets in a park were being refurbished, but a sign indicated the nearby alternative, which was bright, clean and fresh. Exactly what is needed for both locals and visitors.

It is a good job that Kendal doesn't rely on tourists for much of its business. Oh.
I think the lack of toilets is the biggest shame in a tourist area. Kendal is lovely, but the first thing I need after a trip to visit somewhere is a toilet so the family can relax and enjoy the location. I was recently in Derbyshire, and found that the toilets in a park were being refurbished, but a sign indicated the nearby alternative, which was bright, clean and fresh. Exactly what is needed for both locals and visitors. It is a good job that Kendal doesn't rely on tourists for much of its business. Oh. MJ-kendal
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Wed 14 Nov 12

word-to-the-wise2011 says...

It is a shame there are no more public toilets provided by the council but I believe the ones stated as charging 20p are actually privately owned and funded not public and they were probably forced into charging due to high demand following the closure of free public ones.
It is a shame there are no more public toilets provided by the council but I believe the ones stated as charging 20p are actually privately owned and funded not public and they were probably forced into charging due to high demand following the closure of free public ones. word-to-the-wise2011
  • Score: 0

10:13am Thu 15 Nov 12

Kendaltrader says...

I have read so many letters over the last weeks about car parking, Highgate Improvements and Toilets. Even written a few myself - please tell me that the council read this mail? If they did they would have to sit up and take notice at last. The writing is on the wall so to speak and people are becoming very disenchanted. I seriously worry about the ability of the council to lead us through this financial downturn. Please come out from behind your comfy desks and talk to people in business in the town - I have had a shop for over 4 years and never had a member of the council come through my doors to ask me what would help in this difficult economic climate.
I have read so many letters over the last weeks about car parking, Highgate Improvements and Toilets. Even written a few myself - please tell me that the council read this mail? If they did they would have to sit up and take notice at last. The writing is on the wall so to speak and people are becoming very disenchanted. I seriously worry about the ability of the council to lead us through this financial downturn. Please come out from behind your comfy desks and talk to people in business in the town - I have had a shop for over 4 years and never had a member of the council come through my doors to ask me what would help in this difficult economic climate. Kendaltrader
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Thu 15 Nov 12

Ladyxxmacbeth says...

So it has nothing to do with people buying online because it's cheaper and more convienient? No, it's all about the toilets. I'm sorry but I don't care about toilets. If you have a weak bladder most shops will allow you to use theirs if you ask politely. I have bought all my gifts online this year because there is nowhere except argos to buy anything from. I don't need women's clothes, pies from Greggs, shampoo or cheap tat from the pound shops. I can't buy what I want in Kendal so I shop elsewhere, and if I need the toilet I go before setting off!
So it has nothing to do with people buying online because it's cheaper and more convienient? No, it's all about the toilets. I'm sorry but I don't care about toilets. If you have a weak bladder most shops will allow you to use theirs if you ask politely. I have bought all my gifts online this year because there is nowhere except argos to buy anything from. I don't need women's clothes, pies from Greggs, shampoo or cheap tat from the pound shops. I can't buy what I want in Kendal so I shop elsewhere, and if I need the toilet I go before setting off! Ladyxxmacbeth
  • Score: 0

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