LAST Saturday I convened a community conference to hear about the history of Hayes town centre, to examine the current state of the centre and then to launch a campaign for a new Hayes town centre.

Every year I organise a local history conference and also local community conferences to discuss key issues facing our community. At a community conference earlier this year we decided to focus on the town centre as the topic for discussion at our autumn conference.

The event is open to local residents and everyone who has an interest in our area. This includes representatives from the local residents associations, community centres, the council, police and health services.

We received presentations from our local historians Katherine Kelter and Philip Sherwood on the history of the town centre. We will go on to discuss how people feel about the present state of the town including a realistic appraisal of the problems we are experiencing. An important part of the conference will then be an examination of the various new developments taking place and planned for the town centre.

Hayes town centre is relatively busy during the daytime but could be so much more successful if the community's views were listened to, especially by the council on issues like the cleanliness of the area. However at night time the town centre is a failure. There is little to attract people into the area at night and people feel unsafe and fearful.

Nevertheless, if you look around the centre there are major redevelopments taking place. This conference will launch a new campaigning strategy to ensure that local people have say over the redevelopment of the town centre to ensure that we gain the benefits.