Heartfelt plea: save our town - please!

Torwood Street, Torquay, shops with a wide pavement outside

Torwood Street, Torquay - Credit: Google

It is, of course, wonderful news that Torquay has secured almost £22m to bring about significant change for the better.

However, how the money is used is key to the success of the town in the future.

I go back to one of my earlier columns regarding parking – no parking no footfall.

I am delighted to hear that the council have decided to freeze car park charges for the financial year 2021/22 – but this is by no means enough.

When my shop was based in Babbacombe Business Park, our footfall was at least ten times more than in Torwood Street, albeit that customers were then visiting a very large, glorified shack!.

The reason of course was free parking.

Sadly, we had to leave there. 

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At Babbacombe, we had a great number of very loyal male customers – but as we all know men need to have shopping made easy for them, so our move to Torwood Street has not been a success for them or for us as there is no where to park. 

I still believe that echelon parking is the answer on one side of the road all the way up Torwood Street up to the Bowling Alley and ideally, beyond.

This would stimulate business for retail, restaurants, hair stylists and improve the experience for all the customers including the longed-for holidaymakers.

Personally, I don’t mind paying, but we all need accessibility including the disabled who don’t have any dedicated parking in Torwood Street or, of course, people like myself, who must park there to get access to our business premises.

Then of course, there is the rest of the town.

If you are a holidaymaker and come into Torquay at the top of the town, just imagine your surprise in finding yourself back on the Newton Road going home because you can’t actually drive through the town!

This must have been one of the worst decisions of our council historically.

This is a heartfelt plea to please open-up our town from top to bottom and have echelon parking down one side of Union Street and Fleet Street.

I promise you that there would be more footfall and more retailers wanting to invest in the town once they could see that it was a viable proposition.

Before Covid it was a ghost town. Pedestrian precincts have been proven over the years to be the death knell of the high streets across the country.

There are only so many coffee outlets that people can visit in a day! 

Added to this I know that I am not alone when I say that I will not park in a multi-storey car park because of fears for my safety.

They are without doubt scary places to be, particularly if you are alone.

So, Steve Darling, Swithin Long, Darren Cowell and Kevin Foster – can you help?

Can we debate this?

Already I know of a great number of business owners and members of the public who would support this proposal.

Like the Government, it is about time that we are all big enough to admit when we have made mistakes and make a U turn where and when we can for the better good.

The people can save our town once it is an inviting, enjoyable and easy place to visit.

Open it up, make it easy to park and the retailers and people will come and support it.

If any of you have any thoughts on how we can improve things email me on sally@wizardjeans.com and let us try to pressure the council to help us help ourselves.

Going out should be a joy not the current nightmare that it is now.