I was in Herne Bay this afternoon and had a very pleasant lunch in the sunshine in one of the cafes that you see along the High Street. What struck me was the variety of local shops and businesses and an almost cosmopolitan feel to the place, reminding me in a small way of the Wimbledon Village I left for Thanet three years ago.
What really struck me was the contrast between Herne Bay and the rest of Thanet. Herne Bay of course doesn’t have the benefits and disadvantages of Westwood Cross on its doorstep and as a result, the local shops have survived and appeared to be thriving on a sunny day; even a children’s toy shop, something one rarely sees anymore in a world dominated by Toys R Us.
Perhaps this is a lesson to us here in Thanet because without the kind of thriving High Streets I can remember as a boy, we’ll have plenty of superstores and very little local character to enjoy in the same way as the residents of Herne Bay.
I suspect that if you asked them if they wanted their own version of Westwood Cross on their doorstep with the inevitable consequences for the High Street, they’d probably say that they would prefer to make the trip to Canterbury instead but I could be wrong.