Stuart Prosser’s letter ‘I went to Bournemouth and left feeling angry’ struck a chord.

The rise of online shopping combined with the huge cuts in local authority and social care funding has created problems for town centres everywhere.

But some have fared far better than others. Brighton is a thriving leisure destination, packed with shoppers at weekends. Liverpool is another example of a vibrant city centre, full of life and activity. Both those places have their problems with homelessness and have suffered the same cuts as BCP.

So why the difference? Brighton has the Lanes, but Poole and Christchurch have potentially equally picturesque and historic areas, while Bournemouth has gardens and beach that Brighton can only dream of. I’ll confess we don’t have the Beatles.

I was in Vienna a couple of weeks ago and walked extensively through the city. I literally did not see a scrap of litter nor a single beggar. In France, Nice, a seaside resort like Bournemouth, is equally clean and pleasant. Now they may well have better funded local government, but one thing they certainly have in common is a sense of civic pride. So do Liverpool and Brighton.

If people are proud of their town they will look after it. Both Vienna and Nice have huge influxes of tourists but they don’t litter the streets. It is easy to discard all your rubbish in the road if you see that everyone else has done the same. But if the streets are clean, people will look for a bin or take their rubbish home.

Bournemouth (and Poole and Christchurch) has much to be proud of, including our world class beaches, but where is the drive to build civic pride here? I can’t see any from the local MPs or the cash strapped council.

Bournemouth is a beautiful town. We could and should have a town centre to be proud of. Where is the leadership? Who is setting the priorities? Tackle the homelessness problem, engage with the local people, have a coherent long-term plan – maybe to create a “15 minute city”, sort out the parking.

It is not ‘green’ to deter shoppers from driving into Bournemouth with sky high car parking prices if you just cause them to drive to Southampton instead.

Most of all have a vision for the town, explain it passionately, take the local people and businesses with you. Then maybe Stuart will want to visit the town again and maybe he’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Peter Phillips

Chine Crescent Road, Bournemouth