‘Make centre your own’ plead traders

Town Centre Manager Eileen Ormand with Peter Sedgwick Jnr.
Town Centre Manager Eileen Ormand with Peter Sedgwick Jnr.
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RETAIL chiefs are lining up more events in a bid to boost town centre trade.

They want residents to make Blackpool’s shopping district “their own” in the battle to draw in the crowds.

And businesses will be consulted to see whether the current winter fairground in Blackpool’s St John’s Square has also helped increase takings.

Traders in the resort asked for the traditional Christmas lights switch-on to be scrapped this year and replaced with the rides and stalls instead.

Town centre business improvement district (BID) manager Eileen Ormand said: “The reason we changed to a six-week event rather than the switch-on is because the traders didn’t think they got any value out of the switch-on. We’ll go back after this year and say were you happy with a longer event? Naturally we respond to the needs of traders.

“When you look at Preston they’ve got a switch-on, but we’ve got the Illuminations and whatever we do seems to be less important and well-financed.”

As revealed in The Gazette earlier this week, some traders have blamed roadworks for a drop in trade this Christmas. Regeneration schemes have seen disruptions while some roads are being repaired as part of the four-year Project 30 programme, signals are being upgraded at some junctions, and some car parks have closed as part of the Talbot Gateway central business district scheme.

But Mrs Ormand said everything possible was being done to draw more people into the town centre.

She added: “We are looking at a whole variety of events in 2013 for St John’s Square.

“We have markets lined up including a Chilli Festival this spring.

“But we will also be holding community-led events.

“Sometimes there is a feeling, is this my town centre?

“The more events we hold, like the civic trust day and the St John’s school day, the more people will think this town centre is for me.”

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