Camille Berriman: Scruffy corner needs a mum’s touch

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Since starting to write this column I’ve been asking people for topic suggestions. It is fast becoming clear my mum might become my best resource.

“Have you seen the state of the old Woolworths?” she said a few weeks back. And lo and behold – since her comment there has been some debate about the lingering scaffolding adorning the building on the St Andrew’s Street side.

The scaffolding has been up for years, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road and loading bay of what has already been described one of Bury’s ‘ugliest’ streets.

After reading this in the BFP I mentioned it to mum. Her response? “Forget about the scaffolding at the back – I was talking about the front. It’s always so dirty and messy.”

My interest piqued, I took a turn past the spot in question to see what she was talking about. I have to say, mummy dearest has a point.

Obviously everyone is grateful the former Woolies site now has new retailers in situ, but it is a shame more was not done to smarten up the dated shop ‘forecourt’ when the development was under way. Now, it smacks as very 1960s (correct me if I’m way out here) and looks shabby and uncared for. It doesn’t help that one of the fire exit doors to the left of Poundland has the smears of what looks like something unpleasant on it, and the whole area is littered with cigarette ends and needs a good sweep.

This once thriving area of the town now looks sad and uncared for. Next moved out of a large unit when the arc opened, Hawkins Bazaar closed as a result of the recession and The Officer’s Club has been vacant for some time. All that remain are the jewellers and bakers.

While I don’t want to lament the hard times faced by High Street retailers in this week’s column – I think we can all agree that Bury has fared rather well during this recession compared to many other towns – I do wonder what impression this neglected area makes to visitors, who are important to Bury’s economy. And does it really encourage shoppers into St John’s Street, which is home to so many quality independent retailers?