Today I brought the Rt Hon. William Hague MP to Chippenham to hear my plans for boosting our town centres. Rejuvenating our towns is a key part of my long-term plan for Wiltshire. Empty shops are viewed negatively by residents and visitors to our towns, but these empty shops could also be the key to a community-focused high street.
Our town centres could once again be a place where people can exchange ideas and learn new skills, as well as do their shopping. We need a strong local community champion to drive forward these projects – that is what I want to be as our next Member of Parliament.
There is a focus on large cities, but small cities and towns too often miss out. These areas are too small for Big City deals, but too large for some of the rural development funding that is available. I want to make sure that we get our fair share of investment. I would like the government to offer grants for market towns so they can convert vacant shops into spaces for community services such as social enterprises, local art displays, play schemes and adult learning centres.
Today we visited two gems of Chippenham town centre, gift shop Paprika and the excellent Butler’s Butchers, two great examples of small independent traders offering amazing products and service to their customers.