Friday, September 29, 2023

Column: Pauline Latham MP on Great British High Street

By Pauline Latham MP

For many years, Belper traders have led the fight against what has seemed like an unstoppable tide of internet shopping.

Instead of having the boarded-up shops which pockmark cities and towns up and down the land, Belper high street is fresh and vibrant.

It has a variety and zest which offer visitors something different every time.

Therefore, I believe that Belper thoroughly deserves to be named as Champion Great British High Street.

Belper punches way above its weight in terms of customer experience which is why it was given the champion high street accolade back in 2014.

Now it has emerged on the shortlist again – already down to the last three in England, alongside Hitchin and Grimsby, and up against nine others from across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Champion High Street Award recognises community, customer experience, environment and digital transformation.

The competition is judged but the decision also includes a public vote which accounts for about 20% of the weight.

Each email address can register a vote once a day until October 7.

Love Belper, which promotes independent businesses, put forward the town for consideration.

It has done a terrific job in bringing together traders and organisations who are all working for the benefit of the town.

Those of us who have long enjoyed the shopping and cultural offering will empathise with all that #LoveBelper stands for.

No doubt those of you who shop, eat and drink in the town centre and participate in Belper life will empathise with the words on the Great British High Street website.

It praises the innovative town centre partnership for engaging the community and supporting independent retailers via social media and its website which is the go-to place for information on shopping, eating, heritage, arts and events.

We have long been enthusiastic supporters of the Belper Arts Festival which showcases literature, art, theatre, film, photography, dance and music.

Now we have also been able to celebrate the first Belper Pride event which was so successful earlier this month and innovative events such as the pumpkin trail, bunny hop, and fiver fest.

The people of Belper have not sat on their hands and accepted that their town would inevitably die because of the modern age.

Instead, they have worked on increasing footfall and boosting sales through brilliant customer service and the wonderful Belper Ambassador programme.

Belper is also a town which everyone can enjoy – it is accessible to the disabled, encouraging of young mums and committed to sustainability.

The cherished UNESCO World Heritage status could not be in better hands than in those of the people of Belper who rightly want to show off the town to visitors.

More need to be attracted – and by voting for Belper as Champion High Street, you will be shining a light on this wonderful town and affording it the recognition it so soundly deserves.

One thought on “Column: Pauline Latham MP on Great British High Street

  • Andy Binns

    How will Belper shops compete against internet giants in the long run? It will require international cooperation to reign in the likes of Amazon to make them play fair. I wonder how UK will be able to influence these rules as the only developed economy not to be part of a major trading block. Our decision to leave Europe will reach into every pocket in Derbyshire and leave us poorer.

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