Parking, footfall, the range of shops and - perhaps controversially - the welcome of shopkeepers in Helston were among the topics discussed with the town's MP on Saturday.

Derek Thomas was holding the first of seven drop-in events and discussions he has organised in a bid to "revitalise" Helston, following calls to increase support for the town centre.

A survey will soon be sent out to residents not just of Helston but its catchment areas also, to get a wider viewpoint of what the town needs and if people are visiting other towns instead - and why - with Mr Thomas saying Helston had a catchment of around 42,000 residents.

He has vowed that, at the end of the discussions, he will choose three to five issues to take forward.

On Saturday he met with residents and shoppers in the foyer of the Central Methodist Church, accompanied by Malcolm Oliver, who is carrying out a detailed review of Helston to help the town council create a plan for the future.

Graham Reader, from Breage, said he always visited Helston after 4pm because it was free to park, but he had critical comments about staff in some shops, who he said were often "vacuum cleaning around you."

The previous week he had tried to get a watch battery changed by a jewellers at 4.20pm, but claimed he was told "not at this time." Instead he drove to Falmouth, arriving at jewellers at 5.20pm, and staff did it there and then for him.

He said: "Helston encourages you to come here early enough to do your shopping and it's not a very friendly reception when you do go there."

Mr Reader questioned whether free parking could be extended to 3pm, to help attract more shoppers, adding that this worked in other towns elsewhere in the country.

Mr Thomas confirmed: "I will be looking at the parking and the offer that Helston has for visitors. But if you're saying you want shopkeepers to be more friendly, we can feed that back."

He said he also hoped to find out what kind of shops people needed in Helston that weren't currently there, giving shopping for children as an example.

This led Glynn Howells, who lives in Helston, to question "where everybody is going to fit" in the town's schools, particularly with hundreds more houses being built.

Mr Howells also spoke of parking, particularly highlighting the Penrose Road area where he said there were parking restrictions during the week but not at weekends.

Mr Thomas said afterwards: "This first drop-in event was very useful in getting the opinion of local residents on the issues facing Helston.

"These include the need to investigate the possible decreasing footfall in Helston and its potential effect on business rates, parking problems, maintaining footpaths and the need to keep Helston tidy so that the town attracts more visitors.

"The people I spoke to naturally felt some frustration about the problems facing a town they clearly love but, at the same time, they were all very positive and came up with a number of constructive and workable ideas that could help provide answers to some of these issues.

"I look forward to meeting more people and hearing their ideas in the other drop-in events we are holding over the next few weeks.”

The next event will be a drop-in for business owners, held at the Mustard Seed between 2pm and 3pm on February 9, followed by a second drop-in at the Central Methodist Church on February 24, from 11am to 12.30pm. Further events will take place in March.