Dartford Town Centre

Lowfield_steet.jpeg

For more than a decade, boarded up shops have blighted Dartford town centre and Lowfield Street. It's an eyesore and simply unacceptable. Even if Tesco does build a new supermarket -- and there are big doubts about that -- it won't be enough to sort out the problems facing our town.

Our town has suffered for too long at the hands of a Conservative administration that seems to care little about -- and has little vision for -- the future of our town. Waitrose, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Burtons have all shut in the last few months.

Many small businesses complain that they’re struggling because Dartford council is always putting their costs up. Labour would cancel the government’s hike in small business rates due next year and freeze the rate the following year.

But we don’t have to watch our town centre die. It needs a new vision and start – an alternative shopping space and somewhere people want to hang out.

There are so many young people struggling to find work. So we should be supporting our young entrepreneurs, designers and start-ups to open premises. For example, we could be offering them rate free premises for the first couple of years – isn’t it better to see shops occupied than empty or boarded up?

Other towns have turned themselves around. So can Dartford. It just takes vision and a can do attitude.

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Today's confirmation that Tesco has finally dropped plans to build a super-store in Dartford town centre hardly comes as a surprise. Anyone who walks past the boarded up shops in Lowfield Street or has read the company's annual report will realise that.

The Tory council in Dartford has overseen this sorry saga for twelve long years. And the Tory MP has done nothing over the last five years to find a resolution and come up with alternative plans. They've failed Dartford and have left the town centre to rot. It was foolish to solely rely on a supermarket to regenerate Dartford, without a plan B.

But we don't have to watch our town centre die. We need a new vision and fresh start for Dartford.

We need local politicians who have the confidence to stand up to developers, and tell them what our town needs, not the other way around. That's why a Labour government would give local councils the power to tell developers to "use it or lose it" -- to build or give back the land.

Many small businesses complain that they're struggling because Dartford council is always putting their costs up. Labour would cancel the government's hike in small business rates due this year and freeze the rate in 2016.

If elected Darford's MP in May, I would support initiatives to create an alternative shopping space by helping independent traders, new start ups and young entrepreneurs to open premises. For example, we could be offering them rate free premises for the first couple of years - isn't it better to see shops occupied than empty or boarded up?

Other towns have turned themselves around. So can Dartford. It just takes vision, a "can do" attitude and a fresh start.

TOWN CENTRE

Thu 08 January, 2015

Lowfield Street

Today's confirmation that Tesco has finally dropped plans to build a super-store in Dartford town centre hardly comes as a surprise. Anyone who walks past the boarded up shops in Lowfield Street or has read the company's annual report will... Read more

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published this page in Issues 2014-08-08 20:45:18 +0100

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