Amersham residents ask 'where is the town recovery plan?'
A survey of Amersham residents that ended this week shows there is considerable concern about how the town centre will recover as the country eases out of lockdown. It is probably the most responded to local survey outside of the Census, showing people are concerned about the lack of planning to revitalise the town.
The survey has been organised by the independent Amersham Action Group (AAG) whose role is to promote and progress the revitalisation of Amersham-on-the-Hill. Neither the Amersham Town Council nor the Amersham Community Board have produced a Town Recovery Plan and the AAG produced a survey that has been completed by over 1,100 local residents. The AAG will be analysing the results in detail over the coming weeks but their early findings stated, 'it is clear people are concerned about their community and want to ensure that the high street remains a central part of this.'
On March 24th the Conservative-run Amersham Community Board sub-group looking at this issue suggested freeing up some parking bays as well as the potential of some free parking for the first 2 hours. Following this, the Conservative-run Buckinghamshire Council, on 7th April, announced, with less than a month to the local Council elections, free parking for shoppers from 13th April - 11th May to show support for the re-opening of local businesses as part of their 'Think Big, Shop Small' campaign.
The Liberal Democrat candidates for Amersham Town Council believe these short term gestures are wholly inadequate to meet the town's needs. Liberal Democrats candidate Dominic Pinkney states, 'We give huge thanks to the Amersham Action Group (AAG) for all its hard work and the unprecedented number of local residents who completed the survey. However, we are shocked and concerned that the AAG had to step in due to the Conservative controlled council's complete lack of vision and strategy for revitalising Amersham Town Centre. The Council do not appear to have grasped the scale of the problem nor do they recognise the fantastic potential of Amersham to be more thriving and vibrant. Short-term measures on parking are not going to cut it. Amersham urgently needs more.'
'We believe a bigger, bolder and better plan is needed and we will work together with Amersham Action Group, the local community and local businesses to develop an ambitious but deliverable strategy, that will harness Amersham's strengths and uniqueness to increase footfall for Amersham, promote and protect the environment and maximise Amersham's potential.'
'At the heart of that strategy would be the idea of establishing a brand identity for Amersham, something which we, as the community could rally around, through which we could market the character of the town, organise projects, engage the community and hold themed events, and for which Amersham could be known across Bucks and beyond. For example, one suggested approach for evaluation is to market Amersham as the 'Flower capital of Bucks'.
'We will build on the ideas residents and businesses put forward in the AAG survey and on things for which Amersham is already known, such as Amersham in Bloom, the Martyr's Play, Midsomer Murders, Metroland, the Heritage Day to pursue the bigger, bolder, better plan we know is necessary to continue developing Amersham as a place we all feel proud of.'