It’s been just over a month since the Spalding Guardian launched its Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign, supporting independent firms in South Holland’s towns.
So far we have featured traders in Holbeach, Long Sutton and Crowland, with each one of them highlighting how much they rely on support from shoppers in the town.
But firms also need the support of each other to campaign on issues such as business rates, town centre redevelopment and future investment to make South Holland more attractive for consumers and potential traders.
Recognising this, traders in Spalding are moving ahead with plans to form a retailers’ forum ahead of the appointment of a town centre manager who will be the driving force behind making improvements to the town.
Representatives from about 25 different Spalding retailers are to meet next month to take plans for a forum forward after initial talks at Sainsbury’s, Holland Market, last Wednesday.
Gavin Allmand, director of Hill’s Department Store, Spalding, said: “The meeting was a positive start in finding out what is best for the town centre and there is goodwill from retailers to work together on improving Spalding.
“The key point about re-establishing a retailers forum is it will engage with the town centre manager and it’s vitally important that the right person is appointed.
“This really is the opportunity for our town centre businesses to have a say and have some influence on the objectives and strategic goals for the town centre manager, ensuring that what is required is being delivered.
“The engagement of independent businesses is critical for this to happen as Spalding is our town, so this really is Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local in action.”
Phil Scarlett, president of Spalding and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re stronger together and although there a core of people who will make things happen, if we can pull more people into that core, that will be better.”
Meanwhile, traders expecting help with their business rates from Chancellor George Osborne were left disappointed by this year’s Budget.
Despite several relief schemes being in place already, a call for business rates to be revamped has come from Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Beardsley.
He said: “Businesses in Lincolnshire still pay more in property taxes than their counterparts in countries like France and Germany, severely undermining the Government’s aim of maximum tax competitiveness.
“Through the national Chamber of Commerce network, we have been calling for the Government to address unfair taxes by completely overhauling the business rate system to make it fairer.”