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Will Norwich Survive The Retail Decline?

Althought probably not too obvious to the city council, it is becoming somewhat obvious that retail business is somewhat suffering with major long standing stores closing down, not just in Norwich, but all over the country. This of course has many various, and long term after effects on the local economy, however, one does not see the local council doing much about the situation, and there are many things they could do. With the shopping experience in Norwich being one of the major selling points of the city, one can only wonder, with more and more businesses expected to go under, if Norwich will survive this crisis?


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Keith H
The only thing the council does well is waste your money.If you think they care about shops going under,think again.All they are worried about is how much they can make for themselves and their pensions
Julie B
That is such an awful thing to say.  Why not get elected and see how the council saves money and makes so really good inniatives for the shops in Norwich, like the Business Improvement District which has just gone through last July.   It isnt easy running Norwich you know?
I'm with Norwich in Bloom
The problem faced in Norwich is widespread and is effecting most towns and cities throughout the UK and like most problems it is multi-factorial.

Firstly in these recessive times poor management the first to be found wanting, you only have to look at the majority of these companies that are failing, they simply haven't moved forward they are stuck in the past hoping what worked several years ago will carry on working, but we all know, it doesn't. 

Then we have places like Norwich; why would anyone in their right mind go into a traffic laden, heavily polluted, rather dirty city, when you have so many shops on the outskirts where you can pull up outside the front door, with no exorbitant parking charges and get exactly want you want with no hassle. 
Then of course you have the internet where you can usually purchase, items somewhat cheaper without leaving the comfort of  your own home.

So what are the prospects for Norwich? Well personally I think we will see many more big chain shops go into liquidation over the next few years and this will hit Norwich, much the same as elsewhere. 

If Norwich is going to survive, then Norwich City Council have got to take the initiative and make shopping in Norwich a positive experience by making it traffic free with the obvious exceptions, it's going to have to happen one day and I think the sooner the better, otherwise it going to become a ghost town only inhabited at night by the drunken few. 
POEtic Justice
An awful thing to say? Were you reading the right comment, Just get out and about in Norwich and have a good look about. Stop a few tourists and ask them what they think of the place. Go down to Anglia Square and have a look at the so-called improvements to St. Augustine's Street, only recently completed it is cracking all over the place. This should last for years before there are any problems. Even the paving slabs were tilting before the project was finished. It looks an utter mess, and you think this is the sort of thing that will encourage people to want to visit Norwich, I would disagree with you. Take a look at Norwich Market, yet again how the paving slabs are sinking into the ground, and how it is dirty and neglected. In my mind keeping the city clean and tidy is one thing the council could do, if Lincoln can do it why not NCC? The council might think they are making saving on having such jobs done on the cheap, but this is just a false economy, as they have to keep trying to repair the error of their ways. There are numerous examples of just how much the council wastes, just look at the local papers, yet why have they not put in even one Public Acees and Information Screen in Norwich, there in not even one in the Tourist Centre. There are lots of things the council could do to improve the retail sector in Norwich, but don't tell me, I know, Norwich does not like change.
POEtic Justice
John N, seems to understand the problems, he must have been reading the right comment, it is an obvious state of affairs. With shops like Comet, HMV, and Jessops, closing down the council loses money as they are not paying council tax, etc, to the city, so it is to the councils benefit to do more to push Norwich as a major shopping experience. One might have thought the Malls would offer free parking, say one day a week, as some sort of encouragement, but I guess not. Come to that, you one might expect a few screens hear and there in Chapelfield promoting the various shops, special offers, etc, and maybe also various events that might be taking place in Norwich, especially as they have just lost two major shops.

One of the main problems with Norwich is that it is not just about the shopping experience anymore, visitors need something more to get therm into the city, as they have the out-of-town alternatives where they can visit and park with more ease. This is exactly where the council should step in and do something, but with the same old events year in year out there does not seem much hope for that.
Matthew G
Business rates are set by central government, and paid to central government. They just happen to be collected by the local council but none of the money stays locally.
David Meddings
Everything we buy - power, food, petrol is burdened with an approx 40%+ interest donation to banks, financiers etc even when the bankers are the cause of the decline. How are businesses, you and I expected to pay this amount ? and it to be sustainable. If we allowed the banks to be 'baled out' with our money and still be enslaved to them then who can we blame but ourselves
POEtic Justice
Matthew G. I can see why the council do not care that much then, however, the more shops that go from Norwich the less there is to encourage new retail outlets. The council still benefits in many other ways, like employment for the area, and it also has an effect of normal tourism which brings money into the area.
Julie B
Just last year we didnt cut back with the TI because of the many tourists that Norwich gets.  I agree that sometimes it seems harsh some of the cutbacks but its the same wherever you live.  Its quite unkind to say that Norwich is a Dirty city there are parts of it that get cleaned more than others ill agree but I dont think we would had won a Silver Gilt in Britain in Bloom if we were as you put it a dirty city.
And people who live and visit Norwich do love it. 
I still think that you need to look deeper and know what is happening around the city before you put up banter that makes the City look awful.  It is surviving alot better than some of the counties are and if it wasnt for some of the proactive officers we have in the council we wouldnt do half we do as an authority because of the many grants that we get.
I'm with Norwich in Bloom
Matthew G
I have no idea whether the council do a good job or not considering the resources at their disposal - it's hard to tell given that they're the only one we have.

What I object to (and suspect it's borderline defamatory) is the ridiculous suggestion that "all they are worried about is how much money they can make for themselves and their pensions".
Most people I know, dread having to go down the city and try to make it a very short visit if they have too. 

As regards to being dirty and unkempt I would suggest those that praise the place, spend a few hours walking about the city, perhaps off the beaten track, before the traffic and pollution is about a Sunday morning and prepare to be shocked.

If Norwich had any real competition and didn't have such a large catchment area it would have died years ago. 
Norwich is ok for shopping. One problem proper shops have is that you don't often know what the have in stock. Especially smaller shops if they don't have a website. I want a folding shovel for the car. I could spend time walking round the city looking for what I want or I could buy one in 5 mins off ebay.

I also think the city is rather untidy. It's often messy there is litter about. But I feel it's more people rather than the council not clearing it up. All that litter has to come from people dropping it.
POEtic Justice
JulieB. Just take a walk down Queens Street, leading to the main road entrance to Norwich Cathedral, if you want proof of just how much the council cares. At the bottom on the right hand side you will see a large area of the road tiles that have been replaced. I complained to the council that they had just paid for this section of road to be tiled when someone had removed the tiles and replaced them with tarmac, it looked an absolute mess, and nothing had been done about the situation for at least 4 months. You don't need a degree to work out that the council had not even checked on the work being done in this area. Now take a look at the top end of Queens Street and you will see that the exact same thing has happened again, and what have the so-called caring council done about it, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Yet again it has been like it for months. Even those tiles that were replaced at the bottom end of the street did not blend in. If you call this a caring council? I would suggest a better dictionary.

Such problems are all over the city and it seems that the council just ignores the situation unless someone complains. I don't bother anymore, so that is probably why nothing has been done to correct this problem at the top end of Queens Street, and this is not an isolated example of the problem.
Gerry S
Right under their stuck up noses the council allowed our war memorial become a mess - is this the same council that many years ago declared Norwich a nuclear free zone? - that was with RAF Coltishall just a few miles away!!! - hilarious!! Is this the same council that allowed, after moving out elderly residents, its own people to live at a very modest rent in the bungalows off Dereham Road? Is this the same council that allows, right under it's 'nose' allow the continuance of use of the toilets at the top of the market place? - they are dismal and the stench at all times of urine is overbearing - what do visitors to our 'fine' city make of this? - hardly a great advert!!!

The market itself is sterile and is no longer the place of vibrancy that it once was - the atmosphere hustle, bustle and 'life' has gone. 

Now the toilets on the car park off Magdalen Street are closed - those travelling in from all quarters that have need of toilet facilities - where do they go?

I can hear councillors protesting it's all the fault of government cuts, savings having to be made, yawn, yawn, yawn. Please tell me, for every £100 of council tax paid what percentage goes into the pension pot to support the far too generous local government pension schemes compared to what went into the same pot say 10 years ago. With private pension schemes closing their final salary schemes because they are unaffordable how do councils make their schemes 'affordable'? - oh yes, by taking more and more from hard pressed council tax payers!!!

There are, of course, many councillors and local government officers that do a grand job on our behalf but I expect that - that is why we pay you to do the various jobs just as we pay various tradespeople to do work in and around our businesses and homes - we have a right to expect a job well done - anything less it taking money under false pretences.

So, stinky toilets - closed toilets - a lifeless, spiritless provisions market - high parking charges - high business rents and rates and other matters cited by others versus internet shopping? Internet shopping every time!! Excellent prices, no parking charges (yes, I can get free delivery or else factor the delivery charge into the equation), nice clean toilet to use as and when needed, the ability to 'browse' any number of outlets to chose whatever I require and to acquire it at a great price - yes, online every time!!
Retail is leaving the High Street and the High Street, in whatever way it can, must adapt; there is no turning back!!

Our city centre, as with so many others, has become 'sanatised' - it is but a mere shadow of its former self - just like  many of our councillors really!! Remember Arthur South?

Of course the loss of a great number of retail jobs must be addressed - to this I do not think their is any obvious answer. As with the loss of multi-thousands of jobs with the demise of our manufacturing industries there does not appear to be an answer - excepting that of handing out an ever increasin number of benefits. It really does feel as if we are looking into the vortex of water as it goes down the plughole - the downward spiral is gathering in momentum. Extremely sad but nonetheless, as I see it, a fact.

High Street - RIP :(
I just picked up the Evening News tonight and on the letters page someone has wrote a letter headed : 

 ' Welcome To Garbage City' 
POEtic Justice
John N. I stopped and talked to someone taking a picture of the Guildhall a few weeks ago, and said he was lucky to find it without scaffolding up against the front, I thought it was their to stay. He told me he was  just visiting for a couple of days, and I asked him what he thought of the city. He told me that he thought it was dull looking as he approached, and looking around he could not believe how dirty and unkept it looked. Graffiti on the buildings, chewing gum, all over the place, etc, etc. Everyone seems to see it except the council. He had tried to find a street map, but couldn't, he commented on tripping on a paving stone, and said he was very unimpressed with the city. I also pointed out to him that even after years of scaffolding at the front of the Guildhall, just above where HEART is situated, even the clock has stopped, much like this city really, in a time warp, twenty years behind the times. I personally don't know why they even bother to print a new events calendar every year with the same basic events year after year.
Keith H
gerry s
you are music to my ears,i could not have said it better .
Yes PJ the place is a mess, there's no two ways about it; I'm fed up with the city council and the various tourist boards blowing their own trumpet. 
I think that the majority of people just get in their cars, park and go straight into their offices or shops etc, but one needs to take a long walk through the various areas of the city to real see what a disgusting mess it really is. 
Anthony S
Rather than retail decline, perhaps it's the type of business. There are many new shops opening and the city is usually packed of shoppers.
John N, Traffic free is great if it is enforced, not like some roads at the moment.
Julie B, You may love Norwich, but it may still be dirty and made cleaner in places, at least.
Matthew G, You may object to how someone thinks, but PJ is not alone. perhaps the Council are failing in not dealing with them.
I'm with G-DAY
POEtic Justice
I presume Julie B, must have something to do with the council to be so positive about Norwich, but it does not take that much observation around the city to understand the truth. Just take chewing gum as an example and look at the streets. In some cases it looks like it has just started to snow. I bet the council likes the current snow because at least is does remove than particular problem from sight.

I saw a comment on streetlife that the newsagent has now gone from Chapelfield, thus would add this response again as it is relative to this section as well. Don't Panic, the management of Chapelfield in all their ultimate wisdom are going to do something about it, wait for it, they are going to change the name to, intu Chapelfield. That should do the trick and sort everything out then.

Do they run management courses anymore?
I'm with you POEtic Justice, the chewing gum across the City is disgraceful, you visit other towns and Cities and they are not like that, something needs to be done as this does not give a good impression of Norwich....
For someone coming to Norwich from the dirty,polluted city of London I think it's a case of the 'grass is always greener' syndrome.Don't you all realise that this city has so many positive points about it? The quantity of shops you have here is overwelming in choice and quantity. So much in fact (for this small city) that it has too many replicas of the same stores in one small area.No wonder stores are losing trade and money.Too much competition to the smaller traders.I am sure that whichever city you go to, they would have their own grumbles.You all have alot of good points but if you saw the state of some of our other cities in this country, you would find that Norwich isn't so bad. (No I am not a member of the council either).Ok, so they've employed some Cowboys to lay the paving stones and it's a bad job.That won't stop the Tourists coming here.We are looking at it from an insider's eye.The Tourists come here for your great History,wonderful buildings and a truly welcoming community of people here.When I first visited Norwich I was overwelmed with the friendliness of the people and the variety provided here.Please don't knock it too hard.Yes,keep on at the council as they are supposed to provide us with a good service. As for the retail trade, it's down to those new businesses to checkout and get good advice on whether they can afford such high rents in these shopping centres.The new owners of Chapelfield are also owners of the Trafford Centre and Bluewater, so they are a huge organisation.
I would also add, I think Norwich is a fabulous place to live, there are not many places where you have the shopping centres like we have and as Desertflower states Chapelfield has now been taken over by the same company that runs Bluewater and The Trafford Centre, so they must have a lot of faith in Norwich.

We have good parks and heathlands, the Broads on our doorstep. Aside from the Chewing gum issue, I would not want to live anywhere else in the Country, we should think ourselves very lucky to live where we live and if we don't like it then move, nobody forces us to stay here.

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