Axminster's spirit will prevail, say town's traders
PUBLISHED: 11:59 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:13 23 December 2019
Despite the recent closure of several prominent town centre shops and banks Axminster is still 'very much alive'.
That's the view of the local traders' group Totally Locally Axminster which insisted this week that the town's spirit is ready to meet the difficult challenges ahead.
And with the expected imminent reopening of its biggest department store - Trinity House - commercial confidence will flood back, said the group's founder Barrie Hedges.
He said: "All the signs are that it will be restored to the local shopping scene within a few months. It would be the anchor for a revival of the town centre.
"Axminster remains strong in the face of the challenges that face it on the planning and economic fronts."
Launched in July, Totally Locally Axminster's shopper loyalty initiative last week completed its month-long 'Christmas Trail' and organisers believe the response from the community on that and its previous 'Fiver Fest' showed that both its potential and underlying spirit are very much intact.
Mr Hedges said: "The town is certainly in need of support from Westminster to boost the centre and unlock the wider Axminster Masterplan.
"But when you have such loyalty from the people who live here then you have some firm foundations on which to build.
"This town is very much alive."
Mr Hedges said that in March, East Devon District Council made an unsuccessful bid for Axminster to receive a share of the Government's £1 billion Future High Streets' Fund.
Ian Hall, the town's county councillor said: "Neil Parish MP and I had further discussions just days before the General Election. "He gave me an assurance that Axminster's priorities will also be his priorities and will be ensuring that Axminster gets our share of the High Streets' Fund."
Sarah Jackson, Axminster EDDC member, supports Totally Locally Axminster.
She said: "It has proven how retailers and service providers can pull together and help each other through a period of tricky transition.
"This engagement has perfectly demonstrated how valuable our high street still is and how passionate we, as a community are, about protecting it.
"I'm sure that if we continue to support our high street in this way, we will put it in the very best position to redefine its identity and thrive in years to come."