YOU have to feel sorry for the people whose job descriptions include tempting the Swindon public into the town centre.

Every time some store chain pulls the plug, thousands of us pause briefly from making our latest online transactions to complain that the centre isn’t what it used to be.

Argos is merely the latest major brand to announce that it’s bailing.

Should you happen to be one of the people in charge, my commiserations - but all is not lost.

There are a number of options open to you, some of which are more feasible than others.

You might, for example, engage the services of a group of ruthless mercenaries to persuade certain business tycoons not to close down any more shops - if necessary by dropping dark hints about unspeakable torments involving an industrial mincer, a crocodile and a rotary clothesline.

If you are unable to track down any ruthless mercenaries, or are concerned at the likely expense, you could aways employ some resting actors who look a bit tough and can recite that Liam Neeson speech from Taken off by heart.

The chief disadvantage of this strategy is that it is highly illegal, and what with the likely complainants being rich and powerful, the justice system won’t look kindly upon the matter.

Another strategy might involve hiring an even bigger force of ruthless mercenaries to roam residential areas like the press gangs of old, dragooning members of the public to come to the town centre and spend their cash.

This would also likely be highly illegal, but as the victims were ordinary people the consequences if the matter came to court would not be so serious.

Unfortunately, a much larger squad would be needed, meaning the expense of assembling it would probably be greater than that of the extra revenue generated.

The good news is that there is a way of saving the town centre - and not only saving it but making it grow.

For starters, if any more shop premises become vacant over the next few weeks and months and their frontages have to be boarded over, make sure the boards used are plain. resist any urge you might have to use those boards decorated with images of shop and cafe interiors with people buying things or lingering over a glass of something sophisticated.

Quite apart from looking a bit eerie and sad, they fool nobody.

Next, do everything possible to attract new and young businesses to the premises. For every larger chain inclined to head for the hills with nary a backward glance once the going gets tough, there are any number of entrepreneurs in and around this town with ideas for shops, cafes and whatnot of their own.

What’s more, they’re only too aware that they’ll be competing with online retail, so the businesses they’re thinking of starting would generally offer goods and services difficult to obtain with the click of a mouse.

All you have to do is provide them with the premises they need at prices they can afford. You might even devise a system in which the rent paid by these new businesses is tied to the amount of money they make, so the more prosperous they become, the more money heads your way for projects such as repairs, public art, flowers and so on.

At the very least, the number of dismal vacant shop fronts in the town centre would be dramatically reduced, making the place more attractive to the potential customers who still visit.

At best, the place might well eventually enter some sort of new golden age.

Play your cards right, and the town centre will never again be at the mercy of remote and nervous corporations.