Twelve months ago there were plenty of worries about Uckfield High Street.
The second stage of roadworks loomed for the new year and many prophesied armageddon for traders, writes the Uckfield News independent columnist Observer.
A year on, the work is done and vacant shops in the main drag of the High Street are few and far between.
The area beyond Church Street is more marginal but still an excellent home for the specialist.
The bottom line is that we survived, although we will probably never know how financially stretched some shops were.
Anecdotally, it is said some came through by the skin of their teeth, while others sailed serenely on, with no noticeable drop in customer spending.
We head to Christmas and the new year in a seemingly a good place.
One point of interest is that a shop unit is now being eyed-up as a bar.
No doubt there are a few hoops to jump through before it becomes a reality.
It does, however, signal the way our high streets are changing.
Bit by bit the emphasis is turning from shop-till-you-drop to eat, drink and be merry …with a bit of shopping thrown in.
Some will say the town already has centrally-located bars, restaurants and pubs and that X national retailer is needed.
It won’t happen. Shop units are too small in Uckfield for the big boys, even if they are still considering investing in bricks and mortar.
There’s plenty of room for the innovative independent to make a living but get used to the idea of going to the High Street for coffee, cakes, a glass of wine, while making your purchases.
Shopping is going to become that bit more sociable in the future.
Just when you think the Southern service between Uckfield and London Bridge cannot possibly get any worse – it takes another downward lurch.
And still Southern blames a shortage of train crew.
That excuse is worn out.
The company has had time to solve those issues and ensure they have people to step into the breach when needed.
As I have said before, the train operator has no Plan B, no contingency for when things go wrong.
The government shows no signs of wanting to act and bring Southern to book, as more failure is heaped on to the shoulders of fed-up and angry travellers.
Our lives are being stolen by an uncaring train operator and an uninterested government. And not a squeak from the regulator.
What can the weary traveller do?
Read too: on the Brighton and Hove Independent website: Emily Yates – The true cause of the Southern Rail crisis.
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