Council needs to make up its mind on Lewes’s future

Our elected councillors and the council officers who are paid by us, have to make up their minds how they would like to see Lewes in the future.

The share of internet retail sales in Britain has more than trebled since 2007 and unsurprisingly, we are seeing shops closing on the High Street.

Plans for the new Premier Inn show retail outlets below – but who is going to occupy them?

Additional jobs are going to be created, which is good, but where are the employees, new shoppers and hotel guests going to park? The Magistrates Car Park is already full, with queues forming. There are also plans for the North Street Quarter redevelopment and a suggestion for a multi-storey car park at the station.

A big station car park would undoubtedly encourage more traffic through the town centre, so why not instead include a massive underground car park in the North Street development, which could be accessed from the Phoenix Causeway side?

The development will have to be raised above flood level anyway, so why not include a car park below on the existing level?

This would have the benefit of keeping the traffic off the town streets but close to the shops and would encourage people to come!

If people are brave enough to want to open shops in this present climate and the local authority want their business rates, then the council have to evolve from their current short-sighted greed, go on a complete charm offensive and do whatever it takes to make shoppers and shopkeepers welcome.

You simply cannot have traffic wardens lurking in the bushes ready to pounce on people who have chosen to come and spend money here!

There are almost weekly letters in your paper from visitors ‘who will never come back again’.

Is the council mad? Lewes is a destination town – people want to come and browse, shop and eat. We should be welcoming them with open arms!

Our suggestion would be to retrain the traffic wardens, put them into ‘Can I help?’ uniforms, dot them around Lewes to aid and direct people, including to our proposed underground car park.

The alternative is that Lewes becomes a dormitory town full of boarded-up shops, residents hunched over their laptops and Ocado vans rumbling round the empty streets. Is this really what we want?

Liz and Nick Johnson