Families want to be able to enjoy city centre at night too: Cllr Matt Wilcox
Last week saw the final public discussion in Stoke-on-Trent City Council chamber about the shops, businesses, venues and services which make up the 'night-time economy' in the city centre Hanley.
It's been an innovative review for us, carried out in the style of House of Commons select committee 'evidence sessions' and backed by heavy use for the first time of social media – and it has pulled together people of different ages and interests.
I have first-hand experience of the city centre, as a former DJ and a visitor but it has still been eye-opening to hear about (and see first-hand) some of the things which go on.
There needs to be a better transition between the shops closing and the bars opening. The city centre has shrunk and become less diverse over the past few years and it would be great to see families and people who want to stay in the city centre longer, for a meal perhaps, feeling they could do that and get home easily.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
This will be helped, as we've heard by the central business district bringing more office workers into the city centre and developments such as CitySentral.
People want to be able to eat. The trend nationally is more for people going out to eat than drink. When JD Wetherspoon spoke to us in January, it had just had its most successful ever week for food sales at its city centre venue.
Getting people home quickly and safely has got to be one of the key areas highlighted and we have spoken to those who provide transport, and heard the things the police and ambulance staff witness when people are still on the streets come 5am.
My fellow review group members and I have all been impressed by the amount of voluntary work which goes on, from groups who help to clean the streets (as well as our own street cleaners) or just lend a listening ear, a lollipop or a hair bobble.
The answer is not just to amend opening times. We have heard from bar owners who have said they would struggle to survive were they forced to shut at 2am. But there are schemes like Purple Flag which have worked well in other cities and which would require us to work towards them to gain this accreditation. We've also heard examples of how investment, such as in Burslem, has contributed towards a thriving evening economy for a more mature audience.
The next stage is to look at all the evidence we've heard and put forward some recommendations to cabinet. Your comments, sent via social media, about the use of taxi wardens, electronic promotional signs, encouraging students to display their artwork in empty shops, have all been incredibly useful. There is still a great deal of affection and support for the city centre and its businesses.