Meon Valley market towns and villages search for a business champion

Press Release: 07/03/2013

Village scene

Three market towns and villages in Hampshire’s rural Meon Valley are looking for their own local version of Mary Portas or Lord Alan Sugar.

In the same way that government has used these well-known figures to spearhead campaigns to revitalise high streets and boost business, Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham want a dynamic individual to help keep their town centres vibrant and resilient at this time of economic uncertainty.

The new Market Towns’ Development Officer will deliver local action plans in three very different rural towns in the Winchester district, with tasks ranging from events management, fundraising and marketing to setting up new business networks and raising customer service standards.

The post is funded by Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham Parish Councils as well as Winchester City Council and the Department for Local Government and Communities Town Team Partners Fund for Bishop’s Waltham.

Last year the market town of Bishop’s Waltham narrowly missed out on becoming a ‘Portas Pilot’ but, with the backing of its MP George Hollingbery, the town received a grant of £10,000 and a package of support from the Association of Town Centre Managers to help sustain its High Street.

Following community consultation earlier in the year, the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team felt that this government grant could best be used in employing a Market Towns’ Development Officer to help co-ordinate events and marketing activities

Tony Kippenberger, Chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team, said

The Town Team has plenty of ideas and plans and we now need someone dedicated to turning those ideas into action, someone who will have the time and energy to actually make things happen. Somebody who will make a difference.

Cllr Robert Humby, Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council, added

Winchester City Council was able to match-fund the government grant and to offer the opportunity of employing a Market Towns’ Development Officer to other rural market towns within our District.

George Hollingbery, MP for the Meon Valley, added

The rural settlements of Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham are all within my Meon Valley constituency. These rural market towns are great places to live, work and visit and I’m looking forward to meeting the new Market Towns’ Development Officer who will help keep them vibrant and attractive. Cllr Humby and I often work together to champion local rural businesses and to help to cut red tape in our countryside.

The new Market Towns’ Development Officer role will suit someone with excellent communication and negotiation skills, experience of working with and for the business community, an innovative approach and plenty of energy. The 30-hour-a-week post involves some evening and weekend work and travel between Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead, Wickham and Winchester.

To find out more about the post or to apply visit For an informal chat about the post contact Winchester City Council’s Head of Economy and Arts, Kate Cloud, on 01962 848 363 or email