IAN HART Open letter to Sharon Clarke

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IN almost an “open letter” format, this week’s column contains a number of questions to town centre manager Sharon Clarke.

With IKEA being refused permission for a new store in Brighton and Hove, has anybody from Worthing been in touch with the company with a view to them opening an outlet here?

An Ikea in Worthing would not only bring new shoppers to the town, but create a number of new jobs which we certainly need. As a resident and a parent, the local unmeployment situation is a big concern.

I don’t want to trot out the phrase ‘When I was a lad’, but when I left school in 1980, there were a number of employers that would have an intake of school leavers, the four high street banks, the Inland Revenue, MGM, Excess Insurance (Which became Aviva), Lloyds Registrars, Seeboard, Southern Water not to mention a number of vacancies at local factories and in retail.

What opportunities are there for local youngsters who leave school next month?

I know further education is an option for many, but does a large college intake also help the government by keeping the youth unemployment figures down?

This is why, for all their detractors, Tesco will almost be granted carte blanche when it comes to their local plans on account of the amount of jobs they create for local people.

My next question concerns Teville Gate, which may or may not be part of Sharon’s remit, but does she have any idea of what’s going on re the new development?

The Teville Gate saga stopped being a local joke years ago. With the land and location we could have something there which could almost be a “gateway to Worthing”, attracting visitors to the town. Over the years we’ve had more talk than Michael Parkinson, yet little action.

And my final question concerns “footfall figures”. I understand that despite the draconian parking régime, shopper figures are up.

As someone who worked in Montague Street 30 years ago and recalls when, between 11am and 3pm on a Saturday, the precinct resembled Tiananmen Square, when did these figures start?

It’s marvellous if we have more people coming into town than before but are they spending any money?

It is clear, having spoken to a number of members of the Town Centre Initiative, Sharon is doing an admirable job. But, as someone, like thousands of other local people who wants to see this town progress, some answers would be greatly appreciated.

I know I will get an answer from the Herald readers with my final question.

I wonder if anyone can recall when the Plaza in Rowlands Road shut as a theatre/cinema and what was the last production/film there?