Shops given thumbs down

RESIDENTS taking part in a new council survey have given shopping in Hartlepool the thumbs down.

Viewpoint is one of the ways that Hartlepool Borough Council consults with people in town by asking a panel of members their views on a range of topics at regular intervals throughout the year.

The latest Viewpoint survey focused on shopping and the results, which are set to be discussed by civic chiefs next week, showed that town residents were not impressed with the range of shops on offer in the town centre area.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, portfolio holder for performance, is set to meet next week to discuss the latest survey results.

A council report said: “Viewpoint members agreed that the town centre was generally well kept and clean and tidy (67 per cent), and that it was usually easy to find a car parking space in the town centre (67 per cent).

“However, members also felt there was a poor choice of shops (76 per cent), restaurants, and cafes (53 per cent) in the town centre.

“Viewpoint members were more likely to visit other shopping areas because of their good range of shops and the free parking.

“They do not shop at Hartlepool more often because of the poor choice of shops (81 per cent) because they dislike the town centre (41 per cent) and because car parking is too expensive (38 per cent).

“To encourage more people to shop in Hartlepool, Viewpoint members thought we needed more choice of shops, including big name stores and free or cheaper parking.”

The survey also revealed that the majority of Viewpoint members (93 per cent) said they rarely or never shop at the monthly farmers’ market, while 90 per cent rarely or never shop at the outdoor market.

When presented with a list of shopping areas in the North East, members said they were more likely to shop at Teesside Park or in Middlesbrough on a weekly or monthly basis.

The latest Viewpoint survey was sent out last December to all active panel members which totalled 1,423 people.

There was a response rate of 70 per cent, with 998 returned questionnaires.

Since Viewpoint was launched in August 1999, the council has asked members their thoughts and opinions on 144 topics.

l It’s your vote: Page 8