Sunday, April 03, 2016

Altrincham Market should inspire Stockport

Took a trip to Altrincham Market today to see what all the fuss was about. The first people we bumped into were Proper Mag editor Neil Summers and his family on a similar journey of exploration.

It was even better than I imagined and the result of hard work, strong purpose and huge public enthusiasm. We had a nice chat to Nick Johnson, the gaffer, who didn't sugar coat the challenges. You can't click your fingers and make this happen - it takes time. But building anything new starts with a bold and brave first step. My conclusion, with Stockport in mind, the status quo is simply not an option. Change is needed. Excellence is worth shooting for, but you have to do it openly, carefully and respectfully. 
It's not a matter of emulating this, but learning from the challenges and making a leap into the 21st century. 
Definitely one for continued informed discussion with friends who can make this happen like Stockport MP Ann Coffey and Labour Group leader Alexander Ganotis and my colleague at MMU Professor Cathy Parker, head of the Institute for Place Management. 

1 comment:

Artie Fufkin said...

I agree that a better food offer would be welcome in Stockport but I simply don't believe that a complete move to an Altrincham style market will work.

In part, I have my doubts in replicating something and expecting similar results. It's a little like the 1980's response to a dull town was to get someone to open a bowling alley and multiplex. This was great when the first one opened but when there was a bowling alley on every corner, it stopped being as unique.

Stockport Council have plans to change the and essentially this is privatisation which is a good thing. The question is will it work. Stockport suffers far more than just a rubbish market.

I've closed the retail unit we had in Stockport although I still have part of a shop. The problem is in the main, nobody is responsible for improving the town centre. The council staff are all salaried, the only people incentivised in the local council are the parking attendants and they have a negative effect on visitors.

When I asked who was responsible for promoting the Market, I was told it was Peter, Peter said he has more of an director role and it was Graeme, Greame said that he just sorts out problems in the town centre, Vincent? Vincent it appears does the problem solving Graeme thinks he does and Paul was responsible for promoting. Paul believed his role was to make sure the market was set out but not promotion and Musty does promotion. Musty, it turned out was the rep for the Market traders and not employed by the council at all.

Put yourself in the eyes of a newcomer to Stockport and try to find the shopping area. There is not one sign that points towards Stockport Shopping or parking. There are lots of signs for Fred Dinage house and other council offices but really, that's not important to a visitor, nobody is really interested in an ugly carbuncle.

Try to park in the 'old town' there is very little parking available. As mentioned, the wardens are very quick to issue fines and once fined, visitors do not come back. Funny how the Trafford centre does not fine it's customers / visitors and funny how successful the Trafford Centre is in comparison.