Residents urged to help shape Axminster's future
PUBLISHED: 08:01 07 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:09 12 August 2019
The chairman of a leading Axminster community group has called on the town to unite in working to improve its future.
Cindy Furse, of Light up Axminster, has spoken out after the town's bid for a share of The Government's £675 million Future High Streets Fund was rejected.
The decision was strongly criticised by Axminster's Conservative county councillor Ian Hall who said the town was 'fighting for its life' and was going to be in dire straits if it did not see some positive action.
He said: "No-one at Westminster seems to understand the desperate position we are in - let alone care about it."
This week Ms Furse shared Cllr Hall's disappointment but stressed that Axminster still had much cause for optimism.
She said: "Having also contributed to this bid we share the frustration that, yet again, investment hasn't been awarded to Axminster. However isn't this a good opportunity for us to look at what we do have going for us?
"There's a vibrant and strong retail sector, leisure, heritage and cultural organisations and an annual programme of community events that together contribute to bringing visitors to our town and creating a happy and strong community.
"We really need, now, to explore together what we need in terms of additional infrastructure, what creative, cultural and leisure facilities we would like to see, how we might want the town centre regenerated and the support our retailers and businesses need in maintaining their excellent products and services they offer.
"If we do this then we really do give our elected members all they need to champion for, and secure, that much needed investment to our town."
In a statement to the district council overview committee on behalf of the Honiton and Axe Vale Labour Party branch, John Gregory wrote: "Labour is here to speak up for Axminster, Honiton, Seaton, Colyton and Beer town centres. All are bursting with desire to capitalise on their unique heritage, beauty, character and amenity.
"Town centres should be buzzing destinations, with facilities, shops, amenities, health, culture, education and wellbeing backed by excellent physical and service-based infrastructure.
"Labour recommends the district council funds and develops best practice with visionary organisations like Light Up Axminster, that have fostered a culture of trust and community engagement and are incubators for the ideas that will transform our town centres."