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Bournemouth Echo letter on future of town centre

The future of the town centre and our local economy is one of Jessica's key campaign issues.

On Tuesday 27th June, Jessica published a letter in Bournemouth Echo setting out her vision to support innovation and creativity locally, to protect our green spaces and to make the town centre safe and accessible for all visitors.

After 13 years of successive Conservative governments, it's clear that their policies have harmed Bournemouth and financial mismanagement locally has made us all poorer.

Read her letter below.


Let’s not wait another 13 years for a brighter future in Bournemouth

Like many of your letter writers, I share the concern about the decline of our town centre.

As a teenager, I loved coming to Bournemouth, meeting friends and enjoying the beaches. It was a vibrant town of culture and excitement. Now, we are left with too many empty shops, rising levels of crime and extortionate parking charges. It is a shell of its former glory. In the words of one resident I met: “There is nothing to come for.”

It is right to have the conversation about how to improve our town centre. A combination of COVID, changing consumer behaviours and Castlepoint have all had an impact on the town’s fortunes.

But after 13 years of neglect, it is clear new ideas are needed.

I want to see a thriving local economy that builds on Bournemouth’s reputation for innovation and creativity. We do that by supporting the vibrant ecosystem of local businesses in the area – including by reforming business rates at a national level to help small businesses take on the risk of a shop front and by encouraging landlords to fill empty spaces.

I want to see a town centre that is safe for children, their families and our older residents. This means recruiting more police and community support officer, not cutting them, as we have seen across the country.

And I want to see our green spaces and beaches cultivated and protected, made more accessible for local residents and an end to the sewage dumping that has been allowed to proliferate for too long.

I was encouraged by the Council’s intention to look into making parking charges more sensible, but I also want to see proper investment in our public transport system. It can take over an hour to get from parts of West Howe to the town centre by bus. This system should service all the areas of the conurbation, putting people before profits.

The town centre cannot compete with Castlepoint – it needs to differentiate itself. And it can absolutely do that.

It is an obvious political gimmick to seek more levelling up money ahead of a general election. A mask for years of austerity, a crashed economy and financial mismanagement locally that has left us all poorer.

We can build a better Bournemouth and a brighter future for everyone who lives in the conurbation – but let’s not wait another 13 years of empty promises to get there.

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