Churchgate Saga - A message from Cllr Lisa Courts

February 11, 2013 2:15 PM
By Cllr Lisa Courts
Now the saga of the Churchgate development is very nearly at an end I feel I can explain my reasons for voting against extending the contract deadline for Simons. As District Councillor for Bearton Ward I believe it is important that Hitchin residents know why I voted as I did and how I came to this conclusion.
As time rumbled on I felt Churchgate had become like a bad marriage and a petition for divorce had to happen. Liberal Democrat Councillors on NHDC entered into the relationship like any other - with the best intentions. But over time one side stopped listening to the needs of the other, it pretended that everything was okay and as long as every now and again a small gesture was made, local residents and Councillors would except the excuses they gave for any failings.
But despite all the best efforts there comes a time when small gestures no longer mean anything. As promises are continually broken the lack of understanding and commitment by the other side eventually mean that it is no longer worth carrying on, something then has to be done. In this case a petition for divorce. After seeing the locally organised petition this is, in my eyes, what the residents of Hitchin requested and I am happy that Liberal Democrat Councillors help grant their wish. Many have tried to make the developer Simons listen to the needs of Hitchin residents, but to me these attempts have always fallen on deaf ears.
However, Hitchin does have one true star and that is Keith Hoskins. He understands the needs of the town centre and what makes it thrive. Keith's passion and vision should be used, welcomed and - more importantly - continued to be supported. I think in time Hitchin and its residents will get what it wants and needs. This isn't necessarily a big retailer, but smaller shops that offer a friendly welcoming service that enriches the community and engages with it - just as present retailers and the market do! Hitchin is a vibrant Historical town that will continue to thrive - despite it's image in certain parts.
So to the residents, shopkeepers and spokes people of Hitchin, 'well done' on getting your voice heard. I salute your passion for your town.
Lisa Courts
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Bearton ward