Sadly, the time of high streets as we know them may be slowly coming to an end.
But instead of apathetically endorsing this slow and painful natural death, we could get involved in regenerating the heart of Southend, thinking of some new ideas.
Instead of trying, hopelessly, to compete with Westfield Stratford City, why can’t we create something completely alternative, unique and incomparable?
Something special for Southenders to visit, gather around and enjoy.
It was refreshing to read about the recently-organised goods and skills exchange event. It’s great to see people being keen to swap and share what they can do, grow and bake.
This is community spirit at its best. I can’t wait for the next one.
The first thing that should be done to restore our High Street is to move the market there permanently.
The idea of getting an indoor market in the former Woolworths store is also perfect – especially, if this could be created with community-grown organic produce and local arts.
The upstairs of that impressive and quite recently renovated building could be offered to local communities to bid for with the best projects winning.
Maybe it would make sense if we tried to create a stronger college/university feel in the street: rent derelict spaces out to students who could run second hand book shops and galleries showcasing their art work and have small theatre or performing arts walk-in places and atmospheric cafes where they could practice and advertise their skills?
There could be a lovely big open performing stage outside the cinema for music, dance and fashion shows. Everything stays open and buzzing till late at night, flying the purple flag of safe entertainment for our teenage kids.