I have lived in Ilfracombe for almost ten years.
Ilfracombe has changed, although the social problems are constant. I would not pretend to know the answer to that dilemma.
The High Street has changed in that it was once possible for me to obtain everything I needed without leaving the High Street. We used to have a vibrant and lively Somerfield store that stocked an extensive range of goods and often had enticing special offers. We also had a vibrant and lively Coop store that, again, stocked an extensive range of goods and many tempting special offers. Unfortunately, things have moved on and Ilfracombe High Street has been left with a solitary Coop store that appears to have been demoted to a "convenience store". There is a history to all of this and it has nothing to do with Tesco.
No doubt, you will have noticed that Ilfracombe High Street retains the presence of three major banks, two chain chemists, two butchers, a greengrocer, a number of bakers and two DIY shops. However, it is my opinion that a vibrant and well-stocked supermarket at the centre of a trading environment assists in creating trade for specialist independent traders. Ilfracombe High Street now lacks this facility.
Personally, I have a huge amount of respect for independent traders; they bear a heavy burden. When people are heavily involved in, and bogged down with, everyday commitments, flaking paintwork might not be an immediate priority.
I did not intend to be rude and critical but I do get angry when people criticise the life-blood of Devon, the self-employed and independent tradespeople. Actually, since everyone in Devon cannot work in the public sphere or be farmers, the independent sector is the only route to a sustainable lifestyle. Seemingly, members of the Ilfracombe Town Council do not understand these concepts.
Hele Bay is quite right to judge. It is the customer's judgement that makes him or her want to visit a store. If it is covered in flaking paint and the premises neglected, where is the produce kept? In a similarly neglected store room with flaking paint and dirt everywhere? The card shop in Ilfracombe High Street is an absolute disgrace. It possibly contravenes Town and Country Planning regulations. I would never buy anything in there because if the outside isn't cleaned, the inside probably isn't either.
Yes, Ilfracombe does have social problems. But why? Nobody forces women to get pregnant and there are ways of preventing it. Nobody forces people to take drugs or swill down alcohol every day. It is a culture of laziness, fecklessness, fear of hard work and dependency on the state, which includes every other citizen who gets up in the morning and slogs all day, which is at the root of it. Who are these sloppily dressed nobodies who have never done anything, been anywhere, learned anything? Are they the class disrupters who bullied the homework swats and now fear working for them because they got qualifications and have become bosses? Some cannot read and write with any fluency and there is absolutely no reason for that in a country which supplies ten years of education for absolutely no charge. Believe me, in India they know all the names of the English counties and their standard of comprehension and grammar outstrips British schoolchildren completely. That is why India is streaming ahead whilst here in the UK our youth lurches about in the street like drunken chimpanzees on a Saturday night. It is why Europe laughs at us, in Britain's fantasy land of still thinking it has an Empire and trying to be the conscience of the world and its policeman whilst it cannot afford to keep the street lights on. So, Hele Bay, you are right to judge. The standards have fallen and it's not Tesco's fault. Tesco (T.E.S. Tea Merchants and H. Cohen) was a market stall and a small trader. Asda was a collection of small dairy farmers who called themselves, in 1932, Associated Dairies and shortened it to Asda. Everyone has the same chance. Look at all those lost souls in the High Street next time you're here and ponder on where they will be in ten, twenty, thirty years. I can tell you now: either dead, in loony bins or prematurely in old people's homes at the age of 55.
No offence taken equity2010 and thanks for your open and what feels like honest thoughts Roomathetop.For your information Equity I too am one of life's hard workers who has paid taxes since I left school and try to see the good in things including helping and supporting our town for over 25 years(if that has anything to do with it)and do not fall in any of those job areas listed.The life blood of Devon- especially Ilfracombe is not only those listed but whether we like it or not tourism.
I like to look at the optimistic side of things and this recession we are currently in means people can not afford to go aboard. We have a fantastic coastline and the opportunity for business to boom in the summer months but as mentioned by many people ,the town in some areas lets us down,yet those who are really trying to make a go of it deserve all our support and praise for there efforts.My initial comment was a vane polite way of trying to help those run down shop owners to try to do something before our busy season as I believe they will be rewarded by the summer trade if they do.
I see this topic is quite hot at the moment and having been following your inputs I feel I want to add something too if I may.
Let me just say up until now I have just been a regular visitor to Ilfracombe over the previous couple of years, BUT, I do plan on moving down there this year (and if not this year then definitely next year).
Okay, back to the topic - I love looking in the shops along Wilder Road, St. James' Place and The Quay, but when I need to venture upto the high street some of the shops I DO AVOID going in because they're just not appealing from the outside. I understand that might seem a bit harsh but don't get me wrong - I do like the high street as it's how I vaguely remember it as a kid and I do shop in some.
So, when I read that some of those businesses declined the offer of the free paint I just couldn't understand why because if some of those premises I avoid going in because they lack appeal were to spruce up their outsides with a lick of paint perhaps that is all it would take for me to venture inside.
Why don't someone get a little group together and offer to paint the outsides of these shops on a volunteer basis? Please don't flame me for suggesting that, if I was an Ilfracombe resident and read that a group were doing that I would help. I do love Ilfracombe and even spoke to the guy who organizes the 'Ilfracombe street reps' and have offered my services if I am down on holiday during their next outing and offered to do my bit (even though I'd be on holiday), that's how much I like the town and admire what they do.
Anyways, I'm off to catch some sun in the back garden and imagine im on the harbour beach haha.
Thanks for listening.
It would be helpful if the people commenting on this thread sought to establish the status of the shops that they seemingly find so disgusting. Personally, I no longer shop in the High Street so I cannot comment on its supposed deterioration. However, if the shops that are creating so much concern are leasehold properties then surely the terms of the lease agreements would state who was responsible for the maintenance of the premises. It would have been more appropriate, and professional, for the Ilfracombe Town Council to have written, in a discreet manner, to the proprietors of the High Street shops instead of throwing out offers of tins of paint. Remember that people have to work in these shops and may not have any jurisdiction over their management or upkeep.
As regards the army of busybodies that Ilfracombe has recently spawned, I would seek to emphasis that I, as an English person, vote for town, district and county councillors, and I expect them to properly oversee the administration of council services - street cleaning and maintenance. I take exception to unappointed people lording it over me, a citizen of this district, and in this regard, I quote an anecdotal incident.
I am a conservationist and I engaged a qualified person to cut back my hedgebank by way of hedgelaying. However, low and behold, an unappointed busybody, who apparently has a "friend" at the Devon County Council, decided that she wanted the Council to have an entire length of hedging cut without reference to the owners of the hedges. I received an apology from the Council but the damage was done. There are recognised procedures that should be observed and eventhough we get a lot of rain in Ilfracombe, hedges do not grow overnight.
As regards cleaning the town, citizens of this district pay council tax. The district council and the county council have salaried community liaison officers to deal with citizens' concerns.
Whilst I support "Republic", I do not support a "Peoples Republic" of self-appointed people. The "Republic" that republicans envisage is one where all officials, including the head of state, are democratically elected.
The crummiest shop is that card shop near Mike Turton's. What a dump! They don't deserve a single customer. There are a couple of clothes shops with peeling paint and crumbling facades. Even Shoe Zone has become Shoe Zo.e. There will be many thousands fewer visitors this year because of the price of fuel and the reluctance of people to have an expensive holiday in the UK when they can get a cheaper one abroad, so the traders who rely on holidaymakers had better address some of the issues about the attractiveness of their premises otherwise they'll just go to the wall and find themselves hugely in debt. Maybe its time to abandon trading in some of the empty shops and convert them to residential use. Look at Combe Martin. There were hundreds of shops but only just a very few now at the sea end. Ilfracombe will go the same way and it might not be a bad thing for a reasonable mix of commerce and residence. The prospect of Wetherspoons might lead to pub closures in the High Street and that's a great shame because we need 'locals'. Nevertheless, it's no use having a local if the locals don't use them. And it's no use having local shops if they're are too grungy to enter. The traders should close up for a single day and go en-masse to Sidmouth or another prosperous town and see how they survive so well in spite of low tourist numbers and a sinking economy. Ilfracombe won't prosper just because the view is nice. It needs to be seen as inviting, and a dirty shop is a total turn off. Why have they refused the paint? Because they don't like being told what to do, but believe me, they can be told to comply with Town and Country Planning regulations that can compel them by law to comply with a reasonable standard. They're very lucky nobody on the council has enforced this, but they can do.
You are clearly a person of the world. In our fine country, no one can force anyone to comply with that which goes against his/her principles. However, conservation measures outlaw raw stupidity in conservation areas.
I am a conservationist and I resided in a conservation area of North Devon for a large portion of my adult life. I abhor plastic window frames and so do the bonny lads at Torridge District Council. The bonny lads at Torridge District Council outlawed replacement plastic window frames in Appledore and I love them for it. Anyone who buys a property in Appledore knows the score. Appledore, I loved you and will always love you,
The bonny lads at North Devon District Council declared the hedgerow along Langleigh Lane, Ilfracombe, to be a hedgerow of significant importance. The bonny lads at North Devon District Council slapped TPOs (Tree Preservation Orders) on the existing sycamore and ash trees. Lads, I love you.
However, shame on the feeble articles who rejoiced upon, and who were instrumental in, the destruction of the mature sycamore that once took pride of place on my hedgebank. I cannot prove that certain feeble articles were responsible for poisoning my mature sycamore tree but, in my heart, I know who was responsible. Unfortunately, Langleigh Park has become synonymous with the motor home brigade, those who strut their stuff with pretentious caravan-style overnight monstrosities. I am English and have lived a cosmopolitan life-style, so please help me.
Just a thought, the Olympic flame will be passing through the high street when it comes to town, so with the possibility of tv camera's and photographers doing their bit to capture this event if the high street looks tatty and dilapidated by viewers on tv or in newpapers it's highly likely people will see the town in a negative way, and remember never to visit Ilfracombe, yet it would be just a tiny fraction of the town that could possibly cost the town £1000's of income from tourism. :(
Such pretentious nonsense! People who seek to holiday in North Devon will not be seen slumming it in Ilfracombe High Street. North Devon offers some of the finest scenery in this country and it is preposterous to suggest that anyone who might be considering spending a holiday in North Devon will be deterred from doing so by the state of the local shopping centre.
Ilfracombe High Street is geared to serve the local people. Holiday makers will seek out the bars and restaurants.
I agree it does have the finest scenery in the country and thats why I am proud to be here.(I also love the food at Hele Billy's not sure why they took mushrooms with stilton off the main menu though- I will ask them on my next trip)
But if the highstreet is geared to serve the locals I believe we should all be asking for it to be improved not just put up with it.You will know as well as I do, it sure gets busy in the summer and they have money to spend.
I will start with shoe zo.e and see what they have to say maybe if the chains get themselves sorted others will follow.
Had a reply from Shoe Zone,who I must admit I did not know also own Stead and Simpson.They are going to repair their sign asap, we will see!
Hele Billys provided me with great mushrooms and stilton- Although I did only get 2 mushrooms this time not 3- sign of the times maybe! Their customer services is good though.
A letter to the card shop next that has to be the worst one! I will very likely get a stroppy one back though telling me to mind my own business but whatever it lets our town down!