Shropshire Star comment: Wellington townsfolk just keep on fighting
Well done to Wellington. Wellingtonians won’t pretend they have had it easy in recent years.
You can respond to the turbulent seas of fortune by being down in the dumps. Or by coming up fighting – a characteristic which seems to be deeply ingrained in the Wellington spirit.
When Telford shopping centre opened over 40 years ago, an “action squad” of Wellington traders put up fluorescent posters in the night on the approach roads reading: “Stop – shop at car free, carefree Wellington, Telford’s leading market town.”
In the years since, Wellington has had other challenges to overcome. The closure of the Charlton Arms Hotel in the town centre left a gap. Wellingtonians fought to get it reopened as a hotel, but lost that battle.
The saga of the Clifton cinema site has dragged on for years, and the chances it will ever reopen as a cinema, which was the dream, look very remote.
Wellington folk have instead done the next best thing, with the opening recently of Wellington Orbit, a community cinema, cafe, and arts venue. It had the added benefit of bringing back to life the old HSBC building.
Things keep cropping up though. Wellington is a market town, and its indoor and outdoor market has been put up for sale. One other thing for Wellington to deal with. On top of all these, we all know of the pressures that are giving the squeeze to traditional High Streets and market towns.
What can be done? Well, you need vision, imagination, and a bit of luck. And you can add ambition to that list.
The regeneration of Wellington centre is not down to just one group, but an exercise of teamwork, involving Wrekin Council, the town council, local businesses and organisations. And ordinary Wellington folk themselves. Because ultimately the fate of their town is in their hands. The more support they give it, the better.
There is a Love Wellington Campaign, which itself is the sign of a town not prepared to accept the gloomy predictions in so many quarters about our town centres.
It would be a great reward for the work being done if Wellington won.
It would also benefit the efforts through the good publicity, and a boost to morale and confidence.