This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Let's build first Asian mall
The frequent occurrence of often violent robberies in the Golden Mile and the impending improvements to reduce them will probably eventually result in the area becoming a pedestrian-only zone.
Is there another solution to this problem which, at the same time, gives the city a major tourist attraction?
Shortly, Sainsbury's is leaving its present position and moving to the site once occupied by Thorn Lighting, while the present site will probably be made into smaller units.
Could not – with a lot of thought, discussion, investigation and negotiation – traders turn the vacated property into the first Asian shopping mall in the UK and, possibly, Europe?
The mall would have an area for a restaurant that would supply all types of Asian cuisine and an area separated from the main hall to accommodate insurance brokers, solicitors, financial advisers, travel agents – probably including the visa office secured by Keith Vaz.
It could become a fully comprehensive area for the Asian community.
One of the biggest problems with the Golden Mile is the lack of parking.
This would be solved, as there is a large car park.
Another problem is security, which again could be an improvement on the present situation.
Obviously, the financial side would have to be considered, but even that could be helped by applying for various sources such as the Lottery Fund, the Portas Fund – even the council could help.
There are a lot of Asian entrepreneurs who might even be interested in entering negotiations with Sainsbury's.
Perhaps Ratilal Govins would consider discussing such a proposition, its feasibility and its potential as a tourist attraction, as, apart from Leicester, there are many other areas with large numbers of Asians who would welcome such a project and could become regular visitors to the centre.
Perhaps Mr Vaz would lend his support to such a project.
If it did cause any problems, perhaps the Gandhi statue could be re-sited in the hall or in the entrance to the mall.
If it did not offend, perhaps it could named the Gandhi Centre.
Mr G Wainwright, Oadby