THE future for Stalybridge is set to bloom - after dozens of traders have agreed to put hanging baskets and plant pots outside their shops.
Traders are currently working with council officials, community groups and politicians on plans to breathe new life into the town centre.By the end of this month they will submit their ideas as part of a bid to Government to become one of 12 towns chosen to pilot the ideas in the Portas Review.
But in the meantime they have decided to bring a splash of colour to the high street to make it more attractive for shoppers and visitors.
Within weeks more than 40 hanging baskets and pots will be installed by traders. And in December they'll be replaced by decorated Christmas Trees.
Mike Wood, chair of the new Stalybridge Town Team, said: “Most of the traders in Stalybridge don’t just work here – they live here too. And that means they have double reason to care about the future of the town centre.
“We think Stalybridge could be more attractive – so that’s why so many of the traders have committed to brightening up the high street with hanging baskets and flower boxes.
“Traders are already working with community groups and politicians to draw up plans to make the town centre more attractive to shoppers and visitors.
“We hope that the hanging baskets will be a clear sign to visitors that we are all serious about making sure Stalybridge has a bright future.”
The new Stalybridge Town Team – which brings together, local councillors, council officers, traders’ representatives and community groups - was set up in response to the Portas Review.
The Review – led by shopping expert Mary Portas – identified pressures that town centres now face, including online retail, out-of-town shopping centres, parking charges and a decline in the number of shoppers. It also highlighted a number of measures that areas could explore in order to ensure high streets remain the focus of their communities.
At the heart of the Portas Report is the notion of a Town Team – and the Government has made £1million available for 12 towns to pilot their own Town Teams.
By the end of March Stalybridge will have submitted a bid to the Government for funds that could be invested in the town centre.
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds, who is a member of the Town Team, said: “Stalybridge is a town centre that would benefit from some freshening up – and now there is real hope for a brighter future.
“Introducing hanging baskets is a simple step that will make a real difference to the appearance of the high street – and it shows just how serious the traders are about working together to make Stalybridge a better place to live and work.
“I am really encouraged by the way traders and community groups are working together on the Town Team. In partnership they are developing a number of innovative ideas that will form the backbone of Stalybridge’s bid to become a pilot for the Portas Review.
“Within the next two weeks the bid will be complete. And I hope that this will just be the first step in a journey that will make Stalybridge a popular shopping and leisure destination – not only for those who live in Stalybridge but for those who live much further afield too.”