Think Local campaign reveals plans to transform district’s high streets

The Sweet Paradise shop is in the Cross Keys in St Neots

The Sweet Paradise shop is in the Cross Keys in St Neots - Credit: Archant

A new campaign has been launched to support shops and businesses across Huntingdonshire.

You can get yourself a cocktail at Bohemia in St Neots.

You can get yourself a cocktail at Bohemia in St Neots. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) has launched its Think Local campaign which comes after the successful Reopening Huntingdonshire campaign, launched in July, following the relaxation of Government lockdown guidance.

HDC executive leader Cllr Ryan Fuller said: “The last eight months have been hugely challenging for many sectors of our business community and it is vital we continue to support them by building on the work we started with the Reopening Huntingdonshire campaign.

“Our new campaign showcases the positive impact we can all have by thinking locally, and how we can all help to support strong and vibrant high streets.

“Although Huntingdonshire’s market towns are faring well in the circumstances, lockdown effectively shut our high streets overnight and led to internet shopping growing further, putting local retailers under even greater pressure.

Wildfrost café is situated at 18 Great Whyte, Ramsey.

Wildfrost café is situated at 18 Great Whyte, Ramsey. - Credit: Archant

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“Faced with these enormous challenges we are presented with an opportunity to lead a values-led period of renewal to make our town centres fit for the future and deliver lasting change.”

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HDC says the Think Local campaign will also assist local businesses in diversifying to a ‘new normal’.

“The council will be working closely with local businesses and community group across the district as part of the campaign, designing a range of materials and activities in the run up to a busy Christmas period, with a focus on local people,” explained Cllr Fuller.

Staff at the Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon.

Staff at the Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Think Local is set to run until January 2021.

Over the next few months, the council will be highlighting and amplifying the voices from the high streets of Huntingdonshire, as well as empowering local businesses to showcase what is on offer and embrace the changes that will have to be made in response to a changing retail landscape.

Executive leader of HDC, Cllr Ryan Fuller, said: “People have noticed significant changes during the lockdown, and many have decided that a better way of doing things is possible – and how we use our town centres must be part of this.

“Our Think Local campaign was launched last week and will focus on building upon the success of the Reopening Huntingdonshire Campaign in promoting what our local high streets have to offer.

HDC has launched its Think Local campaign

HDC has launched its Think Local campaign - Credit: Archant

“Many people tend to think back to the golden age of high streets and this still exerts a powerful nostalgic pull. There is still a need to strongly support the traditional retail sector, but we must also explore what else we can do to help our local businesses diversify and respond to the changes in consumer demand and shopping habits which have accelerated as a result of the pandemic. We need to be asking what great experiences can be had in our town centres and how we can encourage local people to utilise them as community and leisure hubs.”

“The Think Local campaign is testament to our belief in our market towns and their importance to local people. HDC has already submitted a £12 million Future High Streets Fund plan to transform St Neots, and we are now embarking on similar bold plans to prepare Huntingdonshire’s other market towns for a post-COVID future in which they can not only survive but thrive.

“We have been successful in securing £300k from the Combined Authority to develop similar multi-million-pound St Neots style investment and regeneration plans for our other market towns, and in the short-term, we are also actively working with Mayor Palmer on plans to utilise £1.5 million of COVID recovery funding that he has agreed for Huntingdonshire’s towns.”

The Think Local campaign will run until January 2021, encouraging residents to support the businesses on their doorstep and within the district’s town centres. As with the successful Reopening Huntingdonshire campaign, community involvement is key, and we have already seen an incredible number of residents and businesses join in to celebrate what makes our individual market towns unique.