Ashford town centre praised by Communities SecretaryPosted on 9 May 2019
Ashford has been praised by the government as an example of a reviving high street with its increase in footfall.
Recent figures show that year to date, footfall across high streets in the South East is down 1.7% compared with the same period in 2018. Comparatively, Ashford town centre has seen an 18.9% rise in footfall in 2019, with 287,000 visitors in April.
Against the backdrop of a struggling high street, Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire has praised Ashford as an exception to this rule.
He said: “Councillors in Ashford saw a surge in shoppers in their town centre after they cut parking fees and put on popular public events to encourage people back to the high street.”
“Councillors in Ashford saw a surge in shoppers in their town centre after they cut parking fees and put on popular public events to encourage people back to the high street.”James Brokenshire, Communities Secretary
In a recent report, BBC South East Today explored how the introduction of free parking after 3pm, town centre events and the launch of the LoveAshford website has made a difference to Ashford.
Made in Ashford, a collaborative shop of local designers and producers located in Park Mall, has seen sales increase by a quarter in the past year.
Kate Baker, Made in Ashford, shares her thoughts on the UK retail situation: “High streets will die if initiatives aren’t put in place. So free parking is brilliant, it’s obviously going to draw people in, I know it draws me in!”
With the recent closure of the town’s M&S store, Ashford is working hard to overcome the local implications of the wider UK retail problems.
Hannah Clayton-Peck, Town Centre Regeneration Manager, explains what Ashford Borough Council is doing to combat these issues: “This a national picture for retail. We will continue to help where we can. We will continue to do those things that have been successful and will innovate as we go along.”