The deaths on the high street are all my fault. I never realised how insidious my desire to avoid clutter, to reduce stuff, and avoid collecting things would impact on the local economy.
My lack of desire for social acceptance through owning ‘stuff’ has lead to its downfall.Though I have to wonder when and where did it begin? Did we care for the loss of Radio Rentals or Visionhire when people switched to personal credit over hired purchase?
Was it Our Price we paid for the loss of Heartbeat on Queen Street. Was it just Hard Cheese when the cheese shop went off.
Were we emphatic about the need to support grocers or butchers in the face of supermarket sales?
Going back further why are we not angry at car owners flagrantly ignoring the plight of coach houses and farriers? Surely to maintain our rural and authentic charm we should insist on more horses on the high street, a stable on every corner, and horse manure on every carriageway.
Then again maybe it was not me that killed off HMV. Maybe we picked the wrong plant pots and we failed to clean those stones to just the right degree of spit and polish. If only we had invested more money in some form of Feng Shui for the public highway we might have realised that red and blue highlights encouraged negative aspects of power and interest in the westerly windows.
All that money spent on high street follies yet nothing can be done to dissuade landlords exerting their financial influence or rates from climbing higher.
The reality of our high street is that they are, and forever have been, changing. Today we blame the Internet and yesterday we blamed the supermarkets.
The shopping habits of Horsham have constantly changed and whilst the current trend towards cafes and restaurants appear unending I would remind you of a time when we were inundated with card shops and before that time it was shoe shops; the market adapts to the buyers demands and in turn the landlords squeeze what profits they can from every lease.
I know I am contributing to this change, I also know I am not alone in colluding with these closures. What I realise is that smart street furniture and more free parking will not change our habits. Possibly it is time we fixed our views and not the blame.