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Opinion : How can the problems of Wycombe High Street be fixed?

| September 1, 2019

The High Street, High Wycombe. (Archive picture)

As everyone is probably aware there are problems in Wycombe High Street.

Once upon a time the High Street was the go-to place if you wanted to buy something in a town. That was true in High Wycombe just as it was in any town in the United Kingdom.

Then things started to go wrong. After decades of decline the modern day High Street is not what it used to be.

Did you see the story that appeared in the news section of this site recently headlined ‘High Wycombe shortlisted in Future High Streets Fund‘?

Apparently the ‘Future High Streets Fund’ is a £1billion pot of money that towns can bid to get a share of in order to help rejuvenate their High Streets. Originally just fifty towns were in contention for the money but a few days ago it was expanded to a hundred with High Wycombe joining the list.

In my opinion just throwing money at the High Street in Wycombe will be a waste of time and money, indeed in order to fix what’s broken you firstly need to fix what broke it.

Do you remember the High Street of the 1960’s and 70’s? You could get anything there from vegetables at Aldridge’s to fish from MacFisheries. There were jewellers, newsagents, butchers, banks, toy shops and more besides. It was a wide road with plenty of parking for the vehicles that passed along from Queen Victoria Road into White Hart Street or Church Street and then onto Frogmoor.

Then one day some bright Herbert decided to pedestrianise the High Street. People could no longer drive along the road, shoppers could not park and the decline started.

A modern ‘cobbled’ surface was installed to make it look ‘old’ and quaint however anyone who has lived in the town for 40+ years knows that in reality the High Street was an ashphalt road just like any other. Then there were the hideous ‘Atlas balls’ installed close to the Guild Hall which are completely out of keeping with the surrounding listed buildings.

Once pedestrianised the High Street became a magnet for ‘chuggers’ who pester passers by in the name of charity.

Just over ten years ago a gargantuan shopping centre was built in Wycombe drawing people away from the historic town centre. In my opinion this was the death knell for the High Street.

The tramps, beggars and gentlemen of the road were shooed away from the shiny new shopping centre so they took up residence in the High Street area instead.

Nowadays anyone who is foolish enough to venture into the High Street on market day is smoked out like a kipper by the clouds of smoke billowing from the converted oil drums that pass as impromptu cooking contraptions on some of the market stalls that sell food.

In my humble opinion my good self fails to see that a grant from the Future High Streets Fund will fix the problems of our High Street. Of course it would keep the great and good in jobs while they deliberate on what measures the money should be spent on and hold meetings to finalise their futile rescue plans.

So how do you fix the problems of Wycombe High Street?

Well, in my opinion, these are the measures that should be taken :

  • De-pedestrianise the High Street, Church Street and White Hart Street putting the road and pavement layout back to how it was in 1975. Rip up the kitsch fake ‘olde worlde’ cobbles, roll away the hideous Atlas balls and allow cars to park for free beside the road.
  • Stop canvassers, opinion pollsters and charity representatives from carrying out surveys, questionnaires and chugging in the High Street.
  • Ban food stalls on the market from allowing smoke to drift across the High Street on market days.
  • Encourage independent businesses and a wider variety of businesses to start-up in the High Street.
  • Take firm action against beggars operating in the area.
  • Create an atmosphere that makes the High Street a place that people want to be by bringing in entertainments and activities for families to participate in.

In my opinion Wycombe High Street does not need money from the Government, instead it just needs a reversal of the silly and stupid policies carried out over the past three decades that created the mess in the first place.

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

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