Bishop’s Waltham battles it out for the Great British High Street Award
Press Release: 10/10/2014
Bishop’s Waltham, a small medieval town in Hampshire whose palace was once Oliver Cromwell’s battleground during the English Civil War, is now fighting a modern-day battle. Earlier this week it was shortlisted for the market town category in the Great British High Street Awards.
The competition to find Britain’s best high streets is highlighting new and innovative ways to boost high streets and ideas that will be shared with others.
It is shining a light on hard-working traders and communities around the country and showing what can be done to help shopping streets evolve to be places where people want to shop, socialise and work.
Bishop’s Waltham faces stiff competition in its category from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and Belper in Derbyshire.
A Town Team was formed in 2012 whose main aim was to future-proof the existing High Street as well as developing new markets and business uses for it.
With a mix of funding from Central Government, Winchester City Council and Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council, the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team recruited a Market Towns’ Development Officer, Heidi Isa, who has led a number of the initiatives to increase the number of visitors and retail footfall.
These have ranged from ‘Pumpkins on Parade’ aimed at young schoolchildren to ‘Come Dine With Us’, a week-long celebration of food. They have also introduced a QR-coded town trail which informs visitors of the history of the sites around the High Street. A survey conducted among traders in August 2014 showed that business confidence is at an all-time high with 78% of traders reporting an increase in turnover and 89% believing the economic prosperity of the High Street has improved.
The judges visited Bishop’s Waltham on Thursday 9 October and were met by Cllr Robert Humby, Leader of Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Councillor for Bishop’s Waltham division, as well as representatives from the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team. They were impressed with the initiatives introduced and observed a thriving and bustling town despite the inclement weather.
Cllr Robert Humby said:
I am delighted that Bishop’s Waltham, my local market town, has been shortlisted for this award. I give their application my whole-hearted support and was delighted to meet the Government’s judging panel this week.
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery, added:
The best of luck to Bishop's Waltham in the final judging. To be shortlisted in the top 21 market towns across Britain is a huge achievement and thanks must go to all those who have worked so hard to get this wonderful town so far and in the spotlight it so richly deserves as a historic centre for independent traders.
Tony Kippenberger, Chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team, said:
Please show your support for Bishop’s Waltham High Street on Twitter using #GBHighSt or by visiting www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk.
To find out what is happening in Bishop’s Waltham visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BishopsWalthamTraders.