Action team aims to breathe life into town centre

Published: 11 Feb 2013 12:300 comments

FREE parking, a fashion show and a lottery are among the ideas to help rejuvenate Wokingham's town centre.

The suggestions were put forward at a meeting of the Wokingham Town Team on Thursday last week, as the group discussed how it can best spend the £10,000 it has received from the Government's Portas Pilot Town funding project.

Georgina Hustler, owner of Antique Rose in Bush Walk, Wokingham, said: "Our high streets are decreasing and getting a lot more competition from the internet. As retailers we are in the best place to turn things round.

"It's up to us to enhance and support the future of our town."

The team - which met for the second time last week -will have four sub committees dealing with different ways to improve the town.

A funding and partnerships group will look at the possibility of negotiating with Wokingham Borough Council about allowing free parking in the town.

The idea was also supported by people discussing visitor experience.

Ideas which came up in the promotion and marketing group included hiring a PR manager, advertising in neighbouring towns such as Windsor and Henley, and using the internet to raise awareness of what the town has to offer.

The fashion show was one suggestion for future events, along with inviting buskers and local artists to provide entertainment throughout the year.

Germaine Kelly, owner of Purple Butterfly in Denmark Street, promotes local art in her shop.

She said: "It's one way of retailers promoting something. When people come into my shop they say 'whose are those?'"

Special themed markets were also discussed as a possible way of attracting people to Wokingham.

Town councillor Stan Hetherington said: "What we should be doing is supporting the market. We have a lot to shout about but we need more things to shout about."

Cllr Gwyneth Hewetson, chairwoman of the town council's arts and culture committee, made a suggestion to raise morale around the borough.

She handed out batons to shopowners, which they must pass on after doing a favour for somebody. It is hoped the batons will be full of names and favours done in the next few months.

l To get involved with the Town Team, call Mark Walton on 0118 989 3875.

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