Q&A: Keith Hoskins, Hitchin Town Centre Manager
PUBLISHED: 16:17 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:48 20 February 2013
Keith Hoskins talks to Hannah Gray about theatre trips, where to find beautiful bluebell woods and how Hitchin town centre has changed in the last ten years
What do you do for a living?
I have been town centre manager since April 1997, working for a private membership partnership that includes businesses, community groups, the local council and individuals who have a mutual interest in the economic, cultural and social well-being of the town.
How has Hitchin changed in the last ten years?
We have certainly seen an increase in the caf culture and more service industries such as hair, beauty, financial and professional services.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
The best is that there is a great appreciation of the efforts that we make to put on events, promote the town and help businesses. Generally people are hugely supportive. The worst is that many people still think that I work for the council and so my office becomes the repository for lots of issues. But we will always try to help people, whatever their problem.
What is so special about Hitchin?
The very supportive community, great arts and music, events including Hitchin Festival which runs for the first three weeks of July, our own theatres - The Market Theatre and The Queen Mother Theatre - Hitchin Film Club, Hitchin Folk Club, Rhythms of the World and clubs and societies for every interest.
Do you feel confident about the future of market towns like Hitchin in the face of competition from big out-of-town retail and leisure complexes?
It faces competition not just from out-of-town retail and leisure complexes, but also the huge growth in internet shopping and the plans by surrounding towns to encourage investment in their town centres and increase their facilities. Hitchin has been successful over the years because it has retained the best of the past but looked to the future. Hitchin will need to continue to ensure that it meets the expectations of an increasingly discerning customer base in the range of retailers on offer, the events programme, the general cleanliness and maintenance of the town and the secure and welcoming ambience.
What are your hobbies and how do you relax?
Theatre, music, walking, socialising, current affairs, reading. I also do a good deal of voluntary work as a member of the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse.
Where are the best views to be had in Hertfordshire?
Overlooking Oughtonhead Common, from the top of Windmill Hill, the bluebell woods at Preston, at the top of the tower of St Mary's, and at the lavender fields at Cadwell Farm.
Article taken from June issue of Hertfordshire Life