WISBECH: Retailer’s call for more independent stores

Wisbech retailers have spoken passionately of the need to give shoppers more variety in the town centre, with one manager calling for independent businesses to take the lead.

At Monday evening’s Chamber of Commerce AGM meeting, held in the Wisbech Grammar School, a small group of business owners and councillors came together to discuss issues in the town.

The problem of town centre trade has long been an issue in Wisbech and is a bone of contention with both retailers and shoppers alike.

Andrew Moule, from Bygones Cafe, was a new face at the meeting and said: “There is no variety, which reduces the need for people to come in.”

Beales store director Ian Browne said: “The big names are not going to come here unless we get a multi-million pound shopping centre. It is an opportunity for the independents to make the town a destination for shoppers.”

He added that independents should be given “every incentive” to come to Wisbech. Chris Seaton from Fenland District Council said there are rate incentives for businesses but they are controlled by central government.

Cllr Simon King said the derelict buildings were another issue that is being looked at, particularly Constantine House, but it is “complicated” for councils to get involved.

Mr Moule added that the high number of shops with alcohol licences does not help with the image of the town. Cllr King said a Cumulative Impact Policy was being investigated, which would make it more difficult for new businesses to get licences.

Litter and street rubbish in Wisbech town centre is also a problem that has been raised on several occasions in the Chamber of Commerce AGM.

President Kevin Smith said the impression of Wisbech was “paramount” and he was pleased to announce there would be additional litter patrols in the town centre. Enforcement officers will be patrolling the town centre on a weekly basis, with PCSOs, and will be fining people for dropping litter.

It will also be a chance for them to monitor rubbish hotspots. Members named Wilderness Walk and Ghost Passage as two places in the town centre that often have lots of rubbish, including bin bags and larger items of furniture.