'Town teams are the key' to future success
1:02pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
BUSINESSES must work with the town and county councils to create an “action plan” for the future if Haverfordwest is to once again become the ‘county town’.
Taking inspiration from 2011’s Portas Review – compiled by retail expert Mary Portas - ‘town teams’ are key to deciding the best way forward for Haverfordwest, and the five other major town centres in the county.
But instead of the county council “imposing solutions”, the town teams are made up of councils, chambers of trade and local businesses.
The county council had allocated £250,000 to be shared between the six major towns to deliver regeneration action plans – with town councils needing to provide match-funding to get their share of the money.
Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration Councillor David Pugh said each town had taken a different approach.
“Pembroke, Fishguard, Tenby and Milford are doing extremely well.”
He said that, as a riverside town, Haverfordwest has “enormous potential”.
“We need to build on what we’ve got,” he said.
President of the Chamber of Commerce David Fletcher - who also runs the Spirit of Enterprise shop on High Street - said: “We can’t turn the clock back.
“I feel like we’re moving in the right direction, and we’ve been consistently clear about what needs to happen.”
Making the town family-friendly, embracing leisure outlets as well as retail, and – in the long term –looking at scaling down the traditional town centre n favour of housing are all ideas on the town team’s table.
Building on the success of the weekly farmers’ market, and working with small and start-up businesses in developing ‘pop-up shops’ in empty units are also ideas being discussed.
So far, the county council has worked with the chamber of trade to improve floral displays, and introduced a paint scheme to encourage business owners to brighten up their buildings and improve the look of the town.
“It’s a quick-win idea,” said Cllr Pugh. “The response has been very positive.”
Extensive enhancements in Bridge Street have involved months of work to replace paving, and have coincided with colourful new bunting throughout the town, organised by the Haverfordwest 4Cs initiative.
The county council is now waiting to hear on a second phase of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund which, if granted, would mean a “facelift” for Castle Square and High Street.
Cllr Pugh said he saw it as vital key to improving look of the area, but added: “We mustn’t lose sight that Haverfordwest is more than just Bridge Street and the Riverside.”
He acknowledged issues such as out-of-town shopping developments, litter, dog fouling, car parking and business rates were ‘not going to be solved overnight’.
Cllr Pugh said: “The realisation is that we have to be proactive.”
Also on the agenda is looking "very seriously" at the Riverside Market.
"I would love to see it thrive," he said.
But he added that, in the long-term, better opportunties for market traders needed to be investigated.
"It doesn’t work for the town or for the traders, and at some point we have to “grasp the nettle”."
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