Ian Goldsworthy runs a magazing publishing company in Colchester.

In this column he gives his opinion on how to improve Colchester town centre.

Colchester town centre needs to clean up its act.

It needs to be established, from the start, that all interested parties; Colchester Council, Essex County Council, Essex Police, homeless charities, retailers, the nighttime economy, public transport, magistrates and other appropriate parties, acknowledge there is a problem and are committed to work together.

All attempts will be futile without this agreement.

Rough sleepers: Set up a committee to identify the causes of people sleeping rough, attempt to sort out each individual problem, bearing in mind one size may not fit all, with the aim to make it an offence to sleep rough on Colchester's streets.

Clean streets: Get Colchester Council to do its job.

Night time economy: Identify premises with a history of customers repeatedly causing disturbances. Increase the CCTV coverage and make it known if you cause trouble in Colchester town centre you will be arrested and prosecuted.

Make the premises more responsible and prevent the problem moving onto the streets.

By making it easier for alcohol licenses to be revoked, for example if there are three incidents in six months, it would teach responsibility to the businesses and their customers and ensure firmer stances were taken on any trouble that may arise.

Public transport: It seems for large parts of the day many buses are congesting our town and causing unnecessary additional pollution when they are less than half full. This suggests that for many people the bus is not a credible alternative to the car.

Reasons for this should be established and addressed. It may be that a mini bus alternative branded the Colchester Chariot which serves estates and side roads that the current service does not, would be more suited to the needs of the town.

Car parks: Evaluate usage and reassess pricing to better reflect demand and increase usage.

Road network: Meet with Essex County Council to look at areas that suffer bottlenecks at key times and come up with a plan.

For example, a road by passing the station so only station traffic goes near the area. Other areas certainly in need of assessment are Balkerne Hill, Brook Street and the Hythe. Opening up the level crossing at the Hythe for all traffic. Bus lanes should be removed. We need the roads for traffic not empty buses.

Landlords: Meet with the landlords of empty properties and work with them, and their agents, to help fill the shops with local independent retailers, with the objective of offering variety into the town.

Empty shops should be presented in a creative way so as they do not look empty, as seen in a shopping centre environment.

Street entertainment: This should be encouraged, not a way for Colchester Council to make money or with so much red tape that potential event organisers are discouraged.

Each week could be allocated to a charity to put on a creative event to publicising their charity and raise money. The key here is they should be creative and entertain.

This would also attract visitors into the town centre and increase foot traffic for all parties.

Internet shopping: We understand Colchester is one of the largest towns for internet shopping. The reasons behind this should be established and then internet users targeted with positive shopping data regarding the town, what’s on and what is available in town to encourage a physical presence instead.

Increased variety of shops and entertainment as suggested above would go some way to entice visitors and customers back to the town in person. Cost considerable

Opening times: It is ridiculous shops are still required to open according to the same timetable as they did 50 years ago. Shops opening later, and/or staying open later, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday would encourage many internet shoppers and 9 to 5 workers to shop in town rather than online.

Many potential customers prefer to shop online as their only available time to shop is the weekend and they consider town to be prohibitively busy to do so and therefore avoid it.

A wider range of opening hours would spread the available shopping time and make it a more pleasurable experience at any time of the day.

Daytime behaviour: Cycling on pedestrian areas, skateboarding, shoplifting, anti social behaviour and drunkenness should all be policed and discouraged more thoroughly.

Colchester brand: Years ago, Colchester had a reputation for small independent shops offering variety.

This needs to be revisited and branded in a way such as the Lanes in Brighton.

Our historic heritage should be celebrated and incorporated in what should be the Colchester brand.