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Vann - Council Backing Bedford Town Centre

January 27, 2020 5:18 PM

Henry VannBedford Borough Council Executive Member for Town Centres Cllr Henry Vann has reiterated the Council's commitment to backing Bedford town centre in the face of the wider crisis for the UK's high streets.

Appearing before the Council's Budget and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Vann identified the town's much-loved independent traders as a key strength. With two in every three shops being independents, Bedford has a much higher proportion of independent traders than other towns.

Cllr Vann also noted that Mayor Dave Hodgson's creation of the new town centres portfolio is a sign of the Council's resolve to support shoppers and traders.

Cllr Vann said: "With our new Town Deal Board meeting for the first time this week and exciting plans for new events and more regeneration of the High Street - including a successful bid for a 'High Street Heritage Action Zone' - we're working to help Bedford town centre face the major challenges of today and the years to come.'

"It was good to be able to address questions from Councillors across all parties. Despite difficult national trends, by working together with businesses and residents, we can help Bedford town centre to continue to thrive. Bedford has a unique offer of heritage, retail and culture and we want to make our town a destination accessible for everyone."

Liberal Democrat Budget & Corporate Committee Spokesperson Cllr Jake Sampson added: "It was good to hear from both Cllr Vann and from Bedford BID about the work being done to support our town centre. All town centres face major challenges in the face of trends towards out-of-town and online shopping, so we were pleased to hear more about how committed the Council is to working with partners to keep Bedford thriving."

Despite national challenges affecting stores in recent months, Bedford maintains a lower empty shop rate than nearby towns including Milton Keynes and Northampton. Meanwhile Cllr Vann thanked the 2000+ people who responded to the town centre consultation and laid out some of the measures which will help to ensure the town continues to be an enjoyable place to visit and to spend time and money in.