Traders group set to ‘talk up’ the town centre

Paul Haslam from Northern Rags has launched a shop local scheme which is proving popular with businesses and customers.
Paul Haslam from Northern Rags has launched a shop local scheme which is proving popular with businesses and customers.
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A new traders group in Fleetwood wants to re-enforce a more positive message and improve the town centre.

Group founder Paul Haslam, who runs the men’s fashion store Northern Rags on Poulton Street, Fleetwood, says the aim is to get businesses working together to boost the high street in a variety of ways.

And the Fleetwood Together business group is holding a meeting this month in a bid to get more businesses on board.

The session takes place at Fleetwood Town FC’s Parkside Suite on Wednesday February 24, beginning at 6.30pm.

Times have not been easy for the town centre in recent years, with a combination of the recession and the disruption caused by the laying of the new tram track, when some businesses lost thousands of pounds. But Mr Haslam, who has also set up a “shop local” reward card scheme which now has more than 100 businesses on board in Fleetwood and across the Fylde coast, says a positive approach is crucial in getting Fleetwood town centre back on its feet.

He said: “We are opening out the entire town to the group and would love it if traders simply come along and hear what we are all about. Our aim is to make Fleetwood a nice town to work, shop and live in.

“We know things haven’t been easy in Fleetwood, but we want to get the town back on its feet and above all be positive. We can do things like brighten up the town with a lick of paint, offer businesses training on all kinds of things, including how to make the most of social media. Our ethos is - how can we help each other.”

The group’s chairman is Fleetwood man Ben Pitches, who runs the Prowash Car Valeting Centre at Red Marsh industrial estate in Thornton and is opening a second outlet at Freeport Fleetwood.

He said: “There is some negative stuff about Fleetwood but it’s a special place and if businesses can work together we can give it a lift.”

Some support has also come from Wyre Council, with the authority successfully applying for £100,000 via the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund last year to regenerate Fleetwood’s high street.

Before Christmas, the scheme helped spruce up Uncle Bulgarian’s food store on Lord Street, with other shop fronts set to benefit.