Plans to support towns unveiled

A REGIONAL chamber of commerce has drawn up an outline strategy to protect market towns including Ripley and Heanor after a heated crisis meeting took place.

Traders from the town voiced their concerns at a gathering of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, at the Lion Hotel, Bridge Street, Belper, on Wednesday, June 8.

And a panel lead by chamber president Ian Morgan, from bus company Trent Barton, discussed the possibility of introducing loyalty schemes to reward regular high street shoppers.

He said: “At a time when David Cameron has stated that the High Street should be at the heart of every community, it was encouraging to see Chamber members meet in Belper to endorse this statement and confirm their support in working with partner organisations to stimulate economic growth and prosperity in Derbyshire’s market towns.”

Other solutions raised at the meeting included the possibility of independent retailers working together to create a ‘business improvement district’ similar to Derby’s Cathedral Quarter area, where business owners could pay an additional tax or fee in order to fund improvements in the area.

The Mayor of Heanor, Cllr Harry Soar, is optimistic some of the chamber’s suggestions could work.

“I think a loyalty scheme would certainly help. The councils would need to discuss it of course, but I’m sure it could help. I do feel strongly that any sort of initiative will have a positive outcome for our shops and businesses.”