The plan to stop Hull being a 'ghost town' after 5pm

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 9 Jan 2018

A special scrutiny review is being set up to examine ways of boosting the city centre's night-time economy.

It follows concerns some parts of the city centre are virtually shut after 5pm.

Last week the owners of the Valbon nightclub in George Street confirmed its closure ahead of the building being converted into apartments.

That news was followed with announcements by House of Fraser and Debenhams about tough national trading conditions over the festive season.

Some councillors are worried the success of areas such as Humber Street are not being mirrored elsewhere in the city centre despite massive investment by the council in new-look streets and public spaces as well as venues such as the Ferens Art Gallery and the New Theatre.

And last week, Councillor Claire Thomas described the city as a "ghost town" after the shops have closed.

Valbon nightclub, on George Street. (Image: Peter Harbour)

The new move comes six months after the issue was first raised in a full council motion by Councillor John Fareham.

At the time, he called for a scrutiny investigation into how the city centre could made more vibrant with the aim of supporting a more diverse and profitable shopping and leisure offer.

Now scrutiny councillors have finally agreed to set the wheels in motion by setting up a panel to examine the issue.

Cllr Fareham said the move was overdue as nothing had happened since his original motion despite it receiving all-party support.

"We have already waited all this time and I fear we might have already lost an opportunity in the city centre by not having a Christmas market.

"Indeed, we don't appear to have a a market policy so can we really afford any further delay on this?"

Councillor Abi Bell said: "I think it's an important issue and we need to get on with it."

Lip Syncers entertaining the crowd at the Duckie Summer Tea Party (Image: Pete Harbour)

The review is expected to look at the early impact of the £25m public realm programme and whether the proposed mixed-use Albion Square development at the site of the old Bhs store will breathe new life into that part of the city centre.

It will also look at ways of continuing the City of Culture's feelgood factor during 2017 when dozens of events were held in the city centre such as the Duckie Summer Tea Party.

The potential benefits of the new £35m Hull Venue which opens later this year will also be examined.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Mary Glew confirmed the council was currently in the process of appointing a new manager with specific responsibility for indoor and outdoor markets in the city centre.

The indoor Trinity market is currently being given a £3m facelift with the second phase of work expected to be completed later this month.

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