Manager to bring new vision for town

A town centre manager dedicated to bringing prosperity to Spalding could be in place by the end of the summer.

At a time of uncertainty with the final flower parade in May and rumours of high street shops closing, the Lincolnshire Free Press can reveal an application is being made to South Holland District Council to fund the position out of a £300,000 pot of Springfields Section 106 money.

A three-year plan has been put forward in a combined approach by Spalding Chamber of Commerce and Spalding and District Civic Society and follows agreement in principle at a district council economic development meeting.

David Norton, vice-president of the Chamber, announced the news to the owners of local businesses at a meeting in Spalding last week.

He said: “We need someone totally committed to ensure the town can develop and thrive. When you look at the towns that are doing well, they all have town centre managers.”

Spalding and District Civic Society shared its vision for the role in response to two consultation documents.

Members suggested the person who gets the job should have an eye for urban design and would call for action on areas that need attention, as well as encourage a pride in how public places look and act as a single port of call for all public matters.

In the centre, the manager would watch over everything from getting tenants into empty shops to improving market stalls and shop frontages. The role would also be responsible for marketing the town and its links, such as the water taxi, as well as looking at funding for future events and initiatives.

Mr Norton said: “By the time the position is filled we will know whether plans for the development of Holland Market are going ahead and we will have had the last flower parade, so we have got to look at what can happen in the future.

“At the end of the three years, it would be hoped the town would be earning money from its market stalls and events.”

The plans have been welcomed by Michael Hopkins, store manager of Beales Department Store in the Market Place.

There have been rumours of Beales pulling out of the town, as well as Burtons and Dorothy Perkins, which are owned by the Arcadia Group.

Mr Hopkins, who holds a Retail Business Forum in the town and employs 50 people at the store, said: “It is fact the Arcadia Group is taking its brands out of the town, but we are very much here to stay.

“We are already responding to the shops that are leaving by introducing new concessions.

“This will involve making our menswear department larger and looking into increasing the range of ladieswear.

“Beales is very much about localism and engaging with local communities.

“As well as listening to what our customers want, we also help local groups raise money.

“We’ve an absolutely fantastic, loyal customer base and for us this is a very exciting time.”