In the fight to save our town centres from the online shopping onslaught, it should be universally accepted that we must do everything to make them as attractive and accessible as possible.

Into the debate about how to make Barrow more appealing to shoppers has come no lesser a personage than the defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

Mr Williamson, who has visited the area on numerous occasions, has said he will "work across government to deliver the vision" for a better town centre — a move which is seen as vital to attract staff to come to work at BAE.

Independent MP John Woodcock has identified Barrow's one–way system as one aspect of the town in need of change. And he is right.

The current system was introduced around 25 years ago, to the appalled disbelief of most people who used the town centre. At The Advertiser, we devoted the entire front page of that week's paper to the situation, with the heading "Utter chaos" and photos galore of confused drivers getting snarled up in the system. It seemed counter-intuitive then, if the aim was to improve traffic flow and convenience for shoppers - and it remains so today.

Good traffic flow (and, it should go without saying, good parking) is absolutely critical to a town's success. If the powers that be make it difficult, convoluted or downright confusing for shoppers to get into town - and expensive for them to park when they eventually make it through the one-way maze - what is the obvious outcome of that? They will not bother to make the effort. They will go to out of town shopping parks. They will shop online. And our towns continue their demise.

It was the same in Ulverston. When a one-way system was being considered for the town centre, there were discussions, arguments and consultations galore. The matter was put to a public vote/consultation, with residents invited to choose from three options. If my memory serves me correctly, the most popular option of the townspeople was ignored - and the least popular was implemented.

And that is where it so often goes wrong for towns. The people who actually know what would be best for the towns they live in and love get sidelined, with decisions (often calamitously wrong ones) being made many miles away by people who don't appreciate the nuances of the communities involved.

Barrow's problems of course aren't exclusively about traffic flow in the town centre. But that is certainly one of them. And a big one. It shouldn't really need the nation's defence secretary to make those in charge of such arrangements sit up and take notice.