Retail group aims to set new agenda

A GROUP of retailers in Colchester has launched a website in a bid to unite businesses in the town that are seeking a new direction. The Colchester Retail Association has unveiled its latest initiative in a bid to help the town centre take a new step forward.

A GROUP of retailers in Colchester has launched a website in a bid to unite businesses in the town that are seeking a new direction.

The Colchester Retail Association has unveiled its latest initiative in a bid to help the town centre take a new step forward.

The association's Destination Colchester website was conceived last year after local businesses rejected the Colchester Town Partnership's Business Improvement District (BID) proposal.

The website promotes the formation of an organisation that takes a more sustainable and “hands off” approach to running and improving the town centre.


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Association spokesman Carl Banks, who runs Top Drawer Gifts in Eld Lane, said Colchester had “such huge potential” and it was time for businesses and stakeholders to “pull together” to make the most of every genuine opportunity.

He said: “We don't see Destination Colchester as something we would like to happen - it is something that must happen, and we are encouraging anyone with an interest in the future of our town centre to visit the web site, see what we're about, and register as a supporter.”

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He said responses so far had been “brilliant” and about 30 businesses, groups and individuals had signed up already.

He added: “It's really encouraging to see such diverse support for one initiative in such a short space of time. We hope that this is an idea that everyone can feel a part of and that Colchester as a whole can get behind and help to make happen.

“We really think that this initiative is a winner.”

The BID proposals received a massive thumbs-down in a vote at the end of last year after many members of the partnership were left unconvinced by the effect it would have.

Mr Banks said the defining principles of Destination Colchester included value for money for members, “inclusivity”, sustainability, respect, help with regeneration, encouragement of diversity and support for independent groups.

Kevin Bentley, the town partnership's new chairman, said he did not wish to be drawn in to “factional fighting” between the groups and welcomed any new attempts to enhance the town.

He said: “It's good that retailers in the town are realising their potential. My whole ethos is to make this town even better than it is now. I'm not in to factional fighting.

“If there's an organisation that brings small businesses together then it's all for the good of Colchester.”

He said that, in light of the failure of the BID, he would be discussing the town partnership's new plans to improve the town centre during his first meeting as chairman next week.

To find out more about Destination Colchester, visit www.destination-colchester.com.

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