A national debate about the state of our high streets and town centres has permeated every corner of the country.
We are not alone here in north Northumberland in facing the challenges of modern-day lifestyles and habits, of competition from different sources, particularly the internet, and the changes in expectations of our high streets.
On a recent visit to Alnwick, retail expert Bill Grimsey warned that the traditional high street as we know it will disappear in just a few years.
He was speaking at a meeting of the town council’s business forum at which he forecast that retail will decline at the expense of online shopping. But he had a largely positive outlook about the future for Alnwick town centre and others providing that they adapt.
For that reason, the Gazette last week launched a survey into how residents think their towns or villages should change in the future and what those in power should be looking at.
Click here to fill it in online or use the form in today’s Gazette.
And the response so far has been very encouraging – we have received more than 70 replies to either the in-paper form or the online survey – and they continue to flood in.
Above all else, this tells us that people do care about their high streets, they do want them to survive and they are prepared for change to make that happen.
The responses also tell us that there is a lot to be positive about in the centre of our communities that perhaps we don’t shout about or make the most of.
But there are issues that are preventing people walking down their high streets, whether it’s too much litter or dog poo, too many charity shops, not enough local produce, no entertainment or shabby shop frontages.
We would like to give you the opportunity to make your voices heard so please fill in the survey.
Your views may be quoted and we will use what you tell us to form the basis of stories we report on in the coming weeks and months.