Town Centres Under Threat
Throughout English history the town high street has been an important centre of social interaction as well as a place where there is plenty of local employment. In recent years our town centres have faced serious challenges from out of town shopping and online retailing.
Although Ashby Town Centre has, over the last few years, stayed relatively healthy, this modern illness, which has badly ravaged many towns, is a real threat to Ashby too. Last year in response to the review of our high streets by Mary Portas, the Government promoted the creation of Town Teams as a constructive way of putting our high street back where it should be, at the heart of the community.
What is a Town Team?
There are more than 300 Town Teams around the country. Mostly established as Charities, they are a way of bringing together the many stakeholders such as, property owners, retailers, community groups and Town and District Councils, enabling them to work together towards the common objective of preserving and improving the vitality and vibrancy of the Town Centre. When I looked around earlier this Summer I talked to a number of retail and other friends in the Ashby Community and realised that Ashby had been left behind in this recent trend. I felt that that something needed to be done about that.
Ashby Town Team Today
So our Ashby Town Team was formed. As a company limited by guarantee it had its first meeting in September and is now beginning to take its first steps. From the outset we think that it is important that the Towns’ retailers work together to make Ashby a more attractive place for people to visit and shop in. We have arranged a special Christmas late night opening on 5th December, combined with a voucher offer to encourage shoppers to eat out afterwards in one of the Towns’ many restaurants.
We have also organising Free Car Parking every Saturday from 30 November to the New Year, by courtesy of NWLDC, Ivanhoe School, Manston Investments Ltd or via an Ashby Retailer refund arrangement where private car parks are continuing to charge.
Our Town Team in the Future
Next year we are planning to hold at least four, week long, promotional events, ranging from a Fashion week, to a Food and Drink festival to take place at the same time as the Arts Festival, now an established annual event. In the New Year the team will turn to other ways of improving the local economy, for example with improved transport parking and access to the town
It’s really important that lots of people know that a great deal of effort is being put into preserving the vibrancy and attractiveness of the town. If you’re interested in helping please get in touch. www.ashbytownteam.co.uk