Town rallies together at public meeting

nrhn 0812 11 Heanor's high street meeting
nrhn 0812 11 Heanor's high street meeting

“TIME to get down to brass tacks and think of some solutions” were the words used to close Wednesday night’s Heanor high street meeting.

Boss of the Trent Barton bus company Ian Morgan summed up the hour long debate by saying the town must now move from discussion to action.

The Heanor based businessman and deputy chairman of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce (DNCC) chaired the meeting on the night.

Speaking afterwards he said: “There were a lot of good comments raised at the meeting – most we expected from the results of the high street survey, but there were one or two others we wouldn’t have thought of.

“The people on the panel now need to get together as soon as possible to try and out some options and possible forms of action that we can take back to another meeting.”

Mr Morgan commended the number of residents that attended and said the chamber is hoping to arrange a follow on meeting in January.

The panel, which consists of representatives from The News, Amber Valley Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, Heanor Development Trust and Heanor Traders’ Association, will meet before then to discuss a range of solutions to be put forward at the next meeting.

Last Wednesday’s meeting began with DNCC’s Nick Chischniak revealing the results of the chamber’s Heanor High Street survey, which asked Heanor traders and residents to give their thoughts on the town over the summer months.

Results showed townsfolk cited a lack of car parking, a slim variety of shops and the threat of major supermarkets as the major problems facing Heanor.

The chamber’s survey results were followed by an open forum - with residents directing their concerns to the six-member panel.

Heanor resident Kevan Brown, 39, spoke, saying the reason empty shops are remaining unfilled is because they are unattractive to investors. Empty shops look ‘run down’, and would need repair work doing he added.

Ian Elder, director of Elder and Twells estate agents, said a lack of car parking in the market place area is the town’s biggest issue.

Other residents weighed in on the debate - suggesting ugly empty shop fronts be covered with artwork and a short free parking period permitted on the market place.

The forum was followed by a presentation from Beeston’s Business Improvement District (BID) manager Stephanie Wilkinson.

Business owners in the Nottinghamshire town contribute two per cent of their business’s rateable value a year to fund a scheme of town centre improvements managed by a board.

The fund has seen interactive information points installed around the town, better signage posted on its outskirts and a business to business loyalty scheme established among other improvements.

Mrs Wilkinson said the scheme is making a difference and could work in Heanor, adding that a record 100,000 people visited Beeston last month.

If a BID were to run in Heanor, businesses would have to vote to adopt it and payment into the fund would be mandatory, she said.