Gloucester City Centre has taken a bit of a hit with the news that the Currys just off the cross has closed. While this is bad news for City Centre, what is worse is that the City Council were taken completely by surprise. considering that they are looking after our best interests in terms of regenerating the City to ride out the current problems, I would have expected them to have known what was going on in the heart of our city.
In reality, it transpires that this should not been that much of a shock, apparently this has been on the cards since March, with closing down signs and the staff being well informed. But the Leader of the City Council, Paul James, was completely blindsided by the news. This raises many questions about just how in touch with local businesses the City Council really is. With open letters being written about the lack of support for businesses and in particular the lack of parking for customers, as well as taxing many businesses into extinction. Eddie Eldridge, who owns SoftData in Westgate made the comparison with Stroud, which has a bustling town centre and effective parking.
Paul James himself has effectively admitted that he had no idea what is happening when he tweeted after the story broke “Currys’ head office say that the closure of their Gloucester store wasn’t sudden! Strong hint that a new tenant will move in next month..”. That must have been a bit of a frantic phone call after the reporters of the Citizen had filled him in about what was happening in the City that he is supposed to be leading. That tells us two things, he didn’t have a clue what one of the bigger retailers was doing right on our doorstep, and he also has no idea for the future either.
Some serious answers are required from our City Council about why it was so much in the dark. Why is it not talking to local businesses and ensuring that they have a real feel for the “pulse” of the city. Just where are they leading us!