Once labeled the hot spot for nightlife and shopping, the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton has seen a rapid decline over the last decade, transforming a once bustling, popular hub into a semi-derelict eyesore that people are fast steering clear of.
Shops that were once British traditions have closed their doors for the last time, leaving empty premises, broken windows, and boarded up doors. Woolworths, Evans, T J Hughes - just three examples of highly popular stores closing down in place of fly-by-night bargain shops and mobile phone accessory stalls.
The beauty of Wolverhampton was that it was once a huge (but close-knit) community of shops, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, all located within the center of the town, and accessible by various means of public transport. Now, however, having spent millions of pounds revamping the main bus station on Pipers Row, it is a modern day monolith devoid of the crowds Wolverhampton council had clearly hoped it would bring, as more and more people avoid the city center. Ludicrously, bus fares and car parking tariffs continue to increase past what most would argue was a 'reasonable' tariff.
Wolverhampton council seems to have their priorities wrong in the way they spend their annual budget, making the most of the town's relatively new city status, and increasing the price of commercial rent; the cost to lease/rent a small (17000 sq ft) store in the town center is around £8000 per month. Still trying to crawl back from the recession, businesses are unable to afford the sky rocketing rates, thus leaving empty buildings scattered about town, and a certain air of abandonment.
The millions spent on the a aforementioned bus station would perhaps have been better used on revamping the many empty, and derelict buildings leading into the town from Chapel Ash, or offering a better incentive to the public, such as free parking.
Another option to increase trade would be to get rid of the outdoor market altogether, and instead, do what towns like Bridgnorth, and Ludlow do, and allocate two or three days per week where market stalls occupy Dudley Street and Queens Square. Raising the cost of public transport, as well as changing the bus numbers and routes would have perhaps been better received by the general public if the city they're traveling into is worthy of the cost to get there!
Wolverhampton council needs to re-think their ideas about what would make the city more attractive to tourists and locals alike, and bring back the fantastic town it was not all that long ago. With the help of the public remaining loyal to their hometown, and the council working together with businesses to occupy the many empty spaces, 'Wolves' could quickly return to its former great self.
With so much history, tradition, and nostalgia, along with beautiful architecture still standing, Wolverhampton is proof that modernization is not all that it's cracked up to be, and certainly isn't appreciated by those of us who call the town home.
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