Saturday, 8 October 2011

Saving a High Street!

The Save Dumbarton High Street campaign has been on the go for a while now, and in lots of ways it's a thankless task. High Streets up and down the country are in a state of decline, and Dumbarton is no different from anywhere else. High rates, and high rental costs means that operating from the High St becomes an expensive business, and shoppers are lured away to retail parks, often out-of-town, where car parking is easy, and the large supermarkets do big business.

The brilliant people who are working on the campaign to attract more investment, and new businesses to Dumbarton High Street are up against big players and huge retail giants, and it's a wee bit like David v Goliath, without the sensational biblical result. However, Pride in our Town Week is on the go, and we launched it today from St Augustine's with a big Craft Fair in the church building. It rained and rained.

Footfall on the High Street on Saturdays has been falling anyway, but despite plenty of advertising, rain reduces the footfall anyway. So we had plenty of stalls, offered free head, neck and shoulder massage, brilliant crafts, dedicated stall-holders, but fewer customers than we really needed. They were probably doing their shopping at ASDA or Morrisons.

St Augustine's are proud to be associated with the whole effort, but there's a wee saying about taking a horse to water! If the people of the town will not come into the High Street and shop locally, then inevitably there will, one day, be no High Street to shop in!

However, when you have folk who are as dedicated to turning things around as we have, then there is always hope. The solution, though, ultimately lies in the hands of those who live in these parts. There is the argument that, economically, they have no choice really, and the big boys will continue to sook up the very heart and soul of our towns.

We can't move St Auggie's to the Retail Park, so we need to work out new ways of being a Town Centre Church with a Town Centre Ministry. That can be an exciting prospect, and if there is a solution to the problem, then bet your boots that we will be part of it!


Morag said...

Not as may people there as I'd hoped but those who came all enjoyed themselves, and once again the church has raised its standing in the community. So, as well as the money made, we have something positive to take away from it all.

And many many thanks from me to everyone who helped in any way yesterday.

Fr Kenny said...

Yes, it was a superb effort, and will be repeated by request. One of the points I was trying to make, though, was that if footfall in the High Street is pretty sparse, especially in the rain, how do businesses in the High Street have the faintest hope of survival?