Solution for empty shops?

“Apparently Nottingham City Council has been given £50,000 to reduce the impact of empty shops.

According to the Nottingham Evening Post, the money is: “Intended to support creative ways to use empty shops and re-open them as facilities for communities”.

John Denham, a government minister with responsibility for communities, told the EP: [the City Council] will now be able to use our funding to come up with their own creative ideas to transform their boarded up shops into something useful like a learning centre, meeting place for local people or showroom for local artists…

Is this man real? Does he really think that you can take an empty shop, give it a coat of paint, put up a sign outside saying ‘Community Centre’ and people will flock there to take part in basket weaving or Esperanto for Beginners?

The former NDC offices on Alfreton Road. Now empty. The former NDC offices on Alfreton Road. Now empty. 

The City Council has dozens of community venues around the city, many of which are under-funded, badly maintained, poorly managed and under-used with reducing numbers of community workers struggling to make them relevant to the people they are supposed to serve.

Adding a whole load of empty shops to that list is hardly going to improve the situation and is more likely to divert scarce staff resources away from delivering valuable services to local communities in the city.

But, if they have to do it anyway, they could perhaps take some tips from the New Deal for Communities programme in Radford and Hyson Green. They’ve had over £50m to improve the area and one of the things they’ve spent some of this money on is buying up and renovating empty shops on Alfreton Road.

Now, following this not insignificant investment, the shops have been transformed into much smarter and cleaner… empty shops. Although, to be fair, they have boarded some of them up very creatively.

Perhaps they could share good practice with the City Council so that we don’t see any wastage of public money on this new scheme… because that would never do, would it?”

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