SALISBURY is dying in the evenings, the man representing the city’s businesses has said.
Steve Godwin, Salisbury BID operations manager, was speaking during a discussion about whether the city was ready for “24-hour activity”.
He told Salisbury area board that firms would welcome “any activity that extends the life of our city”.
The discussion came after a planning application was submitted for a 24-hour gym in Salisbury’s Market Walk.
Councillors were not allowed to discuss that specific application at Thursday’s meeting, under council rules.
But area board chairman Richard Clewer put the wider concept of “24-hour Salisbury” on the agenda for debate after “a number of people” raised the issue with him.
Welcoming the idea, Mr Godwin said: “We have got to compete with Winchester and Bath. Anything that is well-managed and attracts people into our city in the evenings or at night-time has got to be good.” He added: “Young people in Salisbury want to see something going on.”
Mr Godwin said 24-hour trading could add to the vitality of Salisbury. “Our city at the moment is dying in the evenings.”
He said taxi firms were taking more people out of the city than they were bringing in, while fewer people were travelling into Salisbury on the train from places like Mere and Tisbury. Instead they were heading to Basingstoke, Bournemouth or Southampton.
“Anything that’s of a quality nature that’s going on to bring people into our city who are going to spend money is going to be supported by businesses,” he said.
There was broad support for the idea, but some questioned whether it was relevant to a city of Salisbury’s size.
Lesley Waller from Laverstock and Ford Parish Council said the debate was “vague” and “ludicrous” as many shops were empty by late afternoon.
She said: “It’s not a matter of ‘are we ready for it?’ We couldn’t afford it.”
Cllr Ian Tomes said the human body was not geared up for “24/7 all night activity”, while Cllr Brian Dalton said a 24-hour working city required a 24-hour public-transport system.
City councillor Tom Corbin said: “It’s already happening whether we like it or not. Let’s embrace it.”
Cllr Mary Douglas said the “slightly bizarre” discussion was “of very little value.”