PASSIONATE residents and business owners keen to bring Wisbech town centre back to life packed the Council Chamber on Monday night for the first meeting to create a ‘town team’.
The team is being put together to try to win a share of £1 million and become a pilot area to test the ‘Town Team’ approach and also pilot some of the other ideas and recommendations set out in the Mary Portas Review.
It was standing room only as people came to share their ideas on how to regenerate the town centre for the ambitious project being launched by television guru Mary Portas.
Businesswoman Jaqui Fairfax had the difficult job of chairing the meeting, as everyone fought to have their say.
Top to Toe owner Paul Davies said the extensive Eastern European community made Wisbech stand out and it should be turned to our advantage instead of being a negative point.
Jaqui was disappointed there were no Eastern Europeans at the meeting, as she had made a point of approaching them. But she is still hopeful of getting the migrant population involved.
Following a prolonged discussion of ideas, it was agreed that the focus for Wisbech will be creating a multi-cultural society with an arts and crafts basis.
Three working groups will be created around three main areas – the Market Place, Constantine House and having a town centre manager – to establish how these can be developed.
Most people were keen to see changes in the Market Place to create an environment that will encourage new business and shoppers. Creating a night-time economy was also high on the list, with hopes it would have a knock-on effect on problems such as crime and anti-social behaviour.
Many want to regenerate the derelict buildings in the town centre. Penny Stocks suggested turning Constantine House into a Jamie Oliver ‘15’-style training restaurant.
The closing date for Wisbech’s town team to submit their application for the pilot scheme is March 30 and the Citizen will be following their progress.