Mary Portas-style report to be commissioned

THE future of Nailsea town centre could hang on a �2,400 scheme for its regeneration.

In the wake of a review of high street shops by TV’s retail guru Mary Portas, released in December, Nailsea’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce has been researching how it can fill empty stores and get more people shopping in the town.

Following a meeting of the national organisation Action For Market Towns (AMT), chamber members decided to buy into its consultancy scheme, which looks into the viability and promotion of small towns.

Nailsea will be benchmarked against similar areas, with ideas which work elsewhere adopted for the town.

Chamber representative and town centre letting agent Ian Thompson, of Thompson Commercial, told members: “It was very interesting to hear about a wide range of small towns who are complaining about shops being empty.

“We will be able to see how Nailsea performs against other towns, with organisations coming together to pick up on what is suggested.

“They are providing a good service at a realistic cost.”

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The report, which could be carried out and completed by June, will cost �2,000 and AMT members visiting Nailsea to assess signage and talk to retailers over two days, will cost another �400.

The bill will be split between the chamber, Crown Glass Shopping Centre and the town council.

Mr Thompson added: “It means someone from outside the town, with fresh eyes, will look at Nailsea and install some realism about what is achievable, through what is working elsewhere.”

Chamber vice-chairman and Gilly’s Cafe owner Gilly Chu said: “I believe 90 per cent of traders will welcome advice on how to unify the town.

“Although we haven’t got many big corporate businesses under our umbrella, we have a lot of independent stores like the butcher, the baker and candlestick-maker.”

Other members said the report will be a good marketing tool and others pointed to a need to look at the planning process because businesses such as cafes and restaurants are often refused prime town centre sites.

Ms Chu added that chamber membership could be increased as a result of the report.

She said: “People always ask what do I get for a �30 a year membership, well they now get advice from experts in how to do well in the town and community.

“It’s �30 for �2,400 worth of advice.”