A DRASTIC shake-up is needed to reinvent Barnsley's 'failed' town centre, a new report has said.

A 90-page report from the Future Spaces Foundation, published on Monday morning, used Barnsley as an example and warned that many small towns' high streets are facing an 'identity crisis' as potential shoppers opt for online stores.

The report - which also outlined the importance of a main library and college in a town centre environment - said Barnsley is 'vulnerable' to expected future public expenditure constraints due to its reliance on the public sector as a source of employment.

The think-tank, founded by architect Ken Shuttleworth and advised by economists and retail experts, said the fundamental mistake made by both national and local governments has been to regard retail as the main focus of Britain's towns.

The focus, it says, should shift to encouraging colleges, universities and offices to increase their presence in the town centre. This in turn will massively increase weekday footfall and jobs, creating a knock-on effect for the local economy.

Mr Shuttleworth said: "Smaller urban towns are seeing jobs moving out of town to business parks in the suburbs. Instead, these should be built in town centres to generate increased footfall.

"Workers get into their car in the suburbs and they drive even further away from the high street. They cannot get to the high street during the day, and so there are fewer people for retailers to sell to. 

"If a town centre lacks jobs, this will shrink the size of the market that retail can serve. But if you attract people to an area, retailers will inevitably follow."

What do you think to this? Do you agree? What could be done to better Barnsley's town centre? Have your say below.