The Final Countdown…

There’s six days to go in Ron’s re-election campaign for Downhall and Rawreth Ward.

If you haven’t got a postal vote or proxy vote and need a lift to either Downhall School or Rawreth polling stations, please contact us (we have one lift arranged already).

We have one final leaflet for Ron to deliver in the next few days. We’re hoping to give some of our regular leaflet deliverers a well-earned rest, so if you don’t normally help us but can spare about an hour this bank holiday weekend to deliver some, please let us know. These are purely local leaflets, not national….

ron fri

  • Ron, could you please give me your thoughts on the best way to maintain the retail / service balance in Rayleigh High Street so that it does not become one long road full of bars, pizza joints and coffee shops. Thank you.

  • Best way is for people to use the existing shops and make them profitable. Being positive, I think Rayleigh needs to find a speciality e.g. antiques . there is an antiques fair coming up soon and it will be interesting to see how well this is attended. No small town can compete against the likes of Lakeside with its large national chains and free parking. The town should be able to offer free parking and lower business costs if it to remain active.
    Also buying on the internet is a major influenece. Suggest visits to Basildon and Southend which in my view look less active and run down.

  • The council’s targets are 75% retail(A1)in the primary shopping area and 50% in secondary.
    These figures are laid down in the local plan and I am broadly in agreement with them.
    Unfortunately we have no control over just what kind of retail outlets there are and this can result in a proliferation of one kind of shop (over the years we’ve had lots of supermarkets and phone shops).
    As for coffee shops, bars and pizza joints etc they all fall into one (non retail) category and we aren’t able to control what kind of establishments they are provided that they are within the laid down percentages

  • One thing that Ron didn’t mention was the campaign to keep free parking on Saturday afternoons in council car parks… that has helped.
    Interesting idea from Bruce re specialising, though we already have antiques at Battlesbridge, maybe Rayleigh should become THE place to go to for new things in the home….
    My tip for today – best jam in Rayleigh is the home-made jam made in Rawreth and sold at the greengrocers in Berry’s Arcade

  • Ron wasn’t the A1 target being reduced in the action plan recently as it couldn’t be achieved?. I’m sure I pointed this out to Toby Mountain.

  • Bruce, I think you are approaching a Catch 22 situation with the High St. The more coffee shops, pizza shops etc. there are then the less retail shops there are selling things people want to buy. Sooner or later people stop coming because there is nothing they want to buy, only fast food outlets, then the food outlets start to close due to lack of customers. It does seem that virtually every new business started on the High St in the last 6/12 months is food orientated. If you add them all together then food and hairdressers probably out number other retail. Some shops have very good support, the greengrocers and Byfords spring to mind, but you can go into others and be virtually the only customer in there. I appreciate the Council have little control over what type of retail establishment opens, but surely there is something they could do to encourage non food outlets into the High St.

  • James, the action plan’s modified version has the following paragraph:

    “The Council recognises the dynamic nature of centres and the need for flexibility. Nevertheless, it wishes to ensure that the majority of uses both within the centres as a whole and within the primary shopping frontage are in A1 use. As of March 2015, within the revised primary and secondary shopping frontages, 66% of the primary frontage and 62% of the secondary frontage fall within a1 use. The council will seek to achieve a target of 75% A1 uses in the primary frontage and 50% A1 uses in the secondary frontage.”

  • Ron, thank you for the reply however I am slightly disappointed, I’m looking to vote for people who display an innovative approach, willing to explore new ideas about keeping our High Streets vibrant and attractive for shoppers. Look to other places which seem to be working and copy best practice, sorry but just quoting council targets is not doing it for me I’m afraid.

  • Christine – we probably all agree that there is an excessive number of eating places in the Town but they do seem to be busy. If there was no demand then some would have to close.
    Chris- the antique idea was just an example. But I do think the town is so much more plenty than the local alternatives.

  • There needs to be some rounded thinking and less bureaucracy – Look at the calendar and start linking events throughout the District to encourage visitors – For example Wild Woods day is a popular event in Hockley Woods – Maintaining the theme of ‘wood’, why not have an antiques market in Rayleigh Town Centre during the same weekend, maybe a carpentry workshop taking place on King George Playing Field etc Look at the calendar and start generating ideas… Last year I was Chairman of Rayleigh Town Team – A new supposedly business led initiative aimed at encouraging people into our town – We had one successful event ‘The Easter Egg Hunt’ and yes I was the Easter Bunny! Enthusiasm was good and businesses wanted a blank canvas for ideas to be generated but every idea was met with a ‘Can’t do that’ bureaucratic obstacle – licences, insurance, funding, the risk of treading on Town Council toes, can’t upset the taxis etc etc etc In the end, originally enthusiastic business owners just got fed up and attendances dropped off. Realising it had become a style over substance exercise, I resigned as Chairman. The Town Team initiative is now being run by a few usual suspects from the District Council, so the Council can say “Look at us, we have a Town Team!” but at the end of the day it’s just nonsense and a great shame because there are plenty of people who would like to push good ideas forward which could help our town flourish.

  • Toby@12, I had completely forgotten that the Taxi Drivers run the town, how is it that these small group of people have so much influence over what goes on ? Do any of the regular contributers to this site know ?

  • Bruce, you are right, if they weren’t busy then yes some would close, however, my thoughts are that enough is enough. If too many more open up then it will mean that those shops are not occupied by people selling things that other people want to buy, once you get to the stage where the majority of shops are “non shops” then you end up with a High St dominated by food, Estate Agents, Building Societies and Banks. People need to use those yes, but not on a daily or sometimes even weekly basis. They then stop coming because the High St has little to offer them. Proper shops close, another non selling organisation opens, and before you know it the High St is sterile and deserted. I have noticed how, since Christmas, Saturday mornings are very quiet in comparison to, say, a year ago. I know there is free parking in the afternoons, but a lot of people prefer to get things done in the morning because they have things to do in the afternoon at a weekend, especially those with young families, kids don’t want to spend Saturday afternoon dragging round the shops.

  • If I hear a politician uttering the words “Hard working families” one more time I am going to set fire to the polling station…