TOWN centre shop bosses in Leven hope to trade ideas on how best to revitalise the town’s High Street.
Shopkeepers have launched an on-line forum for suggestions, comments and ideas about what people would like to see and what kind of improvements can be made.
Around 20 shop managers and bosses met recently with Central Fife MSP Tricia Marwick and local councillor David Alexander, to air their concerns and discuss what could be done.
Forum moderator Julie Herd, who organised the meeting, said the the politicians’ input was greatly valued.
The forum was created in response to the changes noticed in the High Street over the last six months to a year, she said.
The footfall was definitely lower, with smaller numbers of people on the street and less money being spent.
Traders too were concerned about the arrival of outlets such as Poundland (see below) and Tesco in the town, fearing they could have a detrimental effect on existing shops.
But Ms Herd stressed there was a willingness to work with them for the community’s hopeful benefit overall.
“Every High Street needs its chain stores and charity shops, but what makes a High Street are its independents,” she said.
The street was not cleaned frequently enough, in the opinion of many, with particular concerns about cigarette butts and other litter.
Methods of improving the High Street’s appearance and generally making it more appealing to visitors were also high on the agenda, and the forum would be a useful way of sharing ideas - from the public as well as the business community.
Visible improvements, reckoned Ms Herd, may go some way towards changing people’s perceptions of the High Street - with some customers telling traders they were scared to visit.
While there was occasional unpleasant behaviour, the perception was the number of incidents was greater than in reality.
It was hoped these fears could be reversed, with subjects such as a greater police presence among many up for discussion via the forum.
Above all, the traders hoped it would help project a positive impression for the town centre.
“It was a brilliant High Street, and still can be,” said Ms Herd. “It’s a good one now.
“It is awfully sad when you hear people saying ‘Leven’s rubbish’, because it is not.”
Anyone can register and join the forum, free of charge. Simply log on to www.levenforum.co.uk
Mrs Marwick said she and Cllr Alexander felt they could deal “quickly and effectively” with some of the issues raised by the traders.
“We hope to work together to make sure as far as possible that the town centre is as attractive as it can be,” she added.