Express & Star

Our town needs regenerating, say Cannock voters

The decaying, disused car park looms large over the pedestrianised square. Shabby shutters are firmly down on the empty market hall.

Christina Sullivan says the pavements need repairing

Sitting in the spring sunshine, is 80-year-old Ken Hewitt.

"They keep talking about refurbishing the town centre, but nothing seems to happen," he says.

Back in the autumn of 2021, the town was awarded £20 million from the Government's Levelling Up fund to flatten the Church Street car park and market hall, and replace it with a 'leisure and culture quarter' to breathe new life into the ailing town. But as is so often the case with major regeneration projects, development takes place at a glacial pace.

Cannock Chase District Council has changed hands since the plans were announced, last year moving from Conservative control to a Labour-led hung administration, supported by the authorities five Green Party councillors. With all 60 seats up for grabs on May 2, the future of the council is entirely in the hands of voters, but you don't detect much appetite for the election in the town centre.

Mr Hewitt, who lives in Norton Canes, does not think he will vote. A former Labour voter, he has little confidence in any of the parties, and is unhappy by the charges recently introduced for garden waste collections.

"I won't pay it," he says, defiantly. "We pay our council tax for that."

Mr Hewitt We used to have good councillors who lived nearby, if you had a problem you used to go across the road to them, and get it sorted.

"I don't know who they are now," he says.

"They promise all these things, but nothing ever happens."