Top of The Town traders held talks to discuss how to spend a £100,000 windfall (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Traders from Basingstoke's Top of The Town discussed how to spend £100,000 from The High Street Innovation Fund
Top of The Town traders and business people have been mulling over how to spend a £100,000 Government windfall to improve their area of Basingstoke.
The informal meeting took place at the Red Lion Hotel in London Street, last Wednesday evening, where a wide range of suggestions and thoughts were discussed, from setting up a Top of the Town traders’ association, to encouraging pop-up shops, to the regeneration of the market area, with better promotion of the Wednesday and Saturday markets and food fairs held in Market Place.
The initial meeting came about from an online discussion that followed a Gazette report (July 26) in which deputy borough leader Councillor Ranil Jayawardena urged local people to come up with ideas for using the money, which comes from The High Street Innovation Fund.
It is part of a £10million cash injection package announced by the Government to boost struggling high streets nationally.
The borough council plans to use its slice of the fund to revitalise the Top of The Town.
Among those keen to discuss how to improve the older area of Basingstoke was digital marketing consultant at Click 71, Craig Killick, who is also a director at Truly Scrumptious Beauty in Cross Street.
“I was pleased that the meeting came from a chat on LinkedIn,” said Craig who set up the Basingstoke Business group on the social networking website for professional people.
“It wasn’t an organised meeting – and the fact that so everyone made an effort and made some valid points, was good.”
Among those attending were: Alan Stone, who owns Squirrels Antique Shop, in Joices Yard; Robert Bates, owner of Rhu Bar, in London Street; Maxine Hart, who manages the Wote St Employment Bureau, in Wote Street, and Tony Armstrong from Elderberry Brides in New Street.
Others included Louise Ervin from Lamb Brooks Solicitors and Simon Finch from RBS, as well as Felicity Edwards from Destination Basingstoke.
Also attending was Natalie Wigman business relationships manager at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council , with business support officer, Andy Dowling.
One outcome of the meeting was Natalie agreeing to extend the consultation deadline to October 1, set by the borough to collect suggestion on how to use the windfall. A short survey can be found at Basingstoke.gov.uk/go/highstreet.
Commenting on the suggestions outlined on the council’s website, Craig said: “Personally, none of the ideas inspire me, but at the end of the day, it’s not my area – it’s everyone’s.
”In terms of the £100,000, it needs to be spent on something that everyone wants.
“If people want to build back this area of the town, it needs to be reclaimed – and while yes some of the responsibility of that is with the council – it is also down to the people who run businesses here to give what people want.
“You have to give people a reason to go to the Top of The Town.”
A second meeting is set to take place on Wednesday September 12, starting at 6pm, at a venue to be confirmed.