Wickham Market: ‘Town team’ formed in a bid to halt slump in trade
- Credit: Mike Page
A raft of measures are being considered in a bid to boost trade and encourage shoppers back to a Suffolk village.
As previously reported, concerns had been raised about the economic viability of Wickham Market. It was claimed a combination of factors - the ongoing recession, the introduction of parking fees, the relocation of the Co-op to a site outside the main square and the closure of hardware retailer Seagers - had caused a rapid reduction in footfall.
Community leaders, retailers and business chiefs have now joined forces to form a “town team” in a bid to reverse the trend.
The group is exploring a number of possibilities including the idea of a monthly market, that would be held on a Wednesday on The Hill. Indoor markets are another consideration for the old Co-op store.
It has also been in touch with Action for Market Towns, which is in the process of compiling a survey that will be delivered to all businesses, residents, visitors and hinterland parishes in June. The group is hoping for as much feedback as possible so they can find out what people would like to see in Wickham.
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Customer offers, incentives and competitions are also being appraised, while a new “town team” logo is being designed.
Meanwhile, discussions over suggestions for the future of the old Co-op and Seager sites and the recently fire ravaged George pub are ongoing.
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The group is also liaising with the Primary School Association, which is holding a Village Extravaganza on June 15.
District councillor Bryan Hall, who is part of the town team, said: “Five well supported meetings have taken place in recent weeks. The vision is to help revitalise the village centre and its surrounds by supporting the development of a broad mix of retail, community and leisure uses. There has been a great level of enthusiasm and we have been very encouraged. We are not blind to the fact that it’s incredibly tough trading for most businesses. But we believe Wickham can be an important hub for the area.”
The town team is made up of parish and district councillors, retailers, businesses, and the Wickham Market Partnership, while it has also received support from Suffolk Coastal District Council.
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