Masterplan to save Wells 'for the greater good'
WELLS could have avoided having five supermarkets – if the city had a plan for its future.
This is the view of retail consultant Luis Gordon who spoke at a public meeting organised by Wells Civic Society last week.
The meeting heard calls for greater efforts to attract visitors to the city. And a group, provisionally named ‘The 21’ is to be formed to work with local authorities to improve the situation.
The group is now looking for volunteers to help identify problems and come up with solutions.
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Chris Winter, one of the meeting’s organisers and a former director of the Historic Towns Forum, said after the meeting: “Although the High Street looks good on the surface some people are struggling financially – some traders are hanging on by their fingertips.
“We can perhaps mitigate the problems of rents and rates by increasing the number of visitors.
“By identifying issues, such as marketing, and working together with the local authority we can make Wells a nicer place to visit.”
Volunteers are being asked to bring their expertise and experience to help draw up a list of issues and come up with possible solutions.
Wells Civic Society invited Mr Gordon to address a public meeting in Wells Town Hall where he said: “You should have a plan for the future of your city which, for example, would have prevented the arrival here of five supermarkets.
“There is no city manager to bring co-ordination.
“Signage is confusing and complex. The Tourist Information Centre is hard to find and should be in the heart of Wells.
“Visitors get off coaches and leave without seeing the place. You have a wonderful city and should attract more people here.”
Mr Gordon said that a volunteer group needs to have at least 21 members for Mendip District Council to listen to what they say.
He said that if The 21 put together a town plan then Mendip would have to take it seriously.
His idea met widespread approval at the meeting and several people have already offered to be part of or help The 21, which would present the people’s vision to local councils.
Members of the audience put their concerns to a panel comprising Mendip leader Harvey Siggs, Wells Chamber of Commerce vice-chairman Michael Johns, Junior toyshop owner Loaye Abagani and King’s Head landlord Steve Wilson.
Complaints raised included too short time limits at city car parks, the lack of residents’ parking permits, too high business rates, the number of charity shops and speeding on Priory Road.
“The seed has been sown tonight for a city commission willing to put its head above the parapet and challenge coach companies and other big organisations,” said Mr Gordon.
If you would like to be involved as part of The 21 or help it gather the views of the people of Wells, email Chris Winter, at chris.f.winter@btinternet. com.