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Work together for the town

By NewarkAdvertiser Reporter


You can only applaud Councillor Tony Roberts’ commitment, courage and dedication to his civic duties highlighted in the Advertiser (Mayor Seeks Support To Make Town Great, June 14).

What Mr Roberts did not say is how we might "make Newark great again."

The answer is perhaps to look elsewhere and see what other towns have been doing and what the research tells us.

Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, has set up a cross-party think tank called Centre For Towns, which has commissioned research that focuses on towns like Newark, which have suffered decline in recent years as manufacturing industry has been lost, services have been centralised and populations have aged, as younger people move away in search of better opportunities.

A good example of this is how the centralisation of healthcare has reduced the services provided by Newark Hospital, and the fact that 400 young people every day go out of Newark for their post-16 education.

To add to this, research carried out by Locality shows that councils are selling off more than 4,000 publicly-owned buildings and spaces every year.

Towns like Newark are being hollowed out.

However, there are towns that are fighting back.

Altrincham has revitalised its Market Square and has been winning awards nationally as the best food market. Preston has adopted a cooperative approach to "community wealth building" and is opening up to community ownership.

Both schemes have involved and engaged their communities by giving ownership and control to local people and by involving the community in the regeneration process.

I would suggest that councils start to engage with the community by listening to what local people want.

It is time to start giving power away and inviting the community in.

If councils do that we will start to see more young people getting involved in civic life.

More of the same is not going to fix this and Mr Roberts is correct, it is only something that we can do together. — Paul Bagguley, Newark (Full address supplied).


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