ALAN CASTLE: Why were some shops still shut?

Alnwick Town Centre'Narrowgate
Alnwick Town Centre'Narrowgate

It really has been a bumper summer for us in north Northumberland – certainly if the difficulty in getting parked is anything to go by.

Tourists have visited in their droves, particularly this last big weekend of the summer season.

It was heaving just about everywhere I went.

Anecdotally, there has not been a room at the inn – any inn. Even the caravan and camping sites have been chock-a-block.

It’s still not on the same scale as in Cornwall – I fondly remember my childhood days squeezing onto the last square foot of beach left unpopulated – but visitor numbers are definitely rising exponentially.

I blame that Robson Green and his TV programme Tales From Northumberland, which is all set for another series, so get the hard hats ready for another invasion next year.

Not that I’m complaining – honestly!

Tourism is the lifeblood of the area these days, overtaking the traditional industries of farming, fishing and mining.

It is just a shame that the weather and school holidays dictate that the season is crammed into a few golden weeks. If only they could be spread out across the year, the impact would not be as great in the summer.

Given the July/August rush, why is it then that shops still insist on closing on Sundays and bank holidays, particularly in Alnwick?

I saw too many closed doors over the weekend – it must put off visitors from returning off-season if they can’t even browse round the shops when it’s busy.

I know it’s an old chestnut but now that more people are discovering the delights of Northumberland, it’s an issue that should be revisited.

To be fair to the bigger, national chains, many of them were open, but, equally, we want to encourage the smaller traders and do not want to be swamped with the same outlets as every other town in the country. Surely, it would be worth the smaller shopkeepers opening over August Bank Holiday weekend and closing when things die down.

The more who bite the bullet and open, the more we create a Sunday/bank holiday shopping culture and the more visitors can be guaranteed a good day out.