Sleaford’s Town Team has been launched amid a flurry of publicity, the backing of TV’s ‘Queen of Shops’ and a day of networking and business advice lectures.
The inaugural event on Friday was staged at the town’s Masonic Rooms in Westgate and saw things get under way with an outline of the make up, aims and ambitions of the Town Team by its chairman Clare Rayner.
She explained that the Portas Review commissioned by the Government recommended such initiatives as its number one objective to revive high streets.
Sleaford missed out on being selected for funding to become a ‘Portas Pilot’ but Mrs Rayner hoped they could now make up some ground having secured some free advice and guidance from the regional Town Team adviser.
The opening address was backed up by video messages of support from TV retail queen Mary Portas, Sleaford MP Stephen Philips and Martin Blackwell (former CEO of Association of Town and City Management).
This was followed by an address from leader of North Kesteven District Council Marion Brighton who outlined the Sleaford Masterplan and a number of projects being put together with top consultants to reverse the trend of losing three quarters of the town’s potential revenue to other surrounding towns and cities.
Mrs Rayner said: “We had a really fantastic day and it was wonderful to have local people come along to learn more about the Town Team.”
As a Community Interest Company, the team also featuring Andrew Rayner, Bev and Eddie Jenkins, Catherine Smith, Karen Pole, Nigel Gresham and Sharon Broadwood, will be focusing on expanding efforts to regenerate Sleaford market, the evening and night-time economy, major events such as the carnival, business networking events and training such as the launch of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and increase footfall to benefit local businesses.
Mrs Rayner said they will be practising their own philosophy of sourcing all goods and services locally for a fair price wherever possible and will be sustained through membership fees from local businesses and residents willing to sign up and support the initiative, with fees ranging from £12 to £1,000 per year, as well as grants, donations and sponsorship.
Aware that Sleaford voted to reject its last Business Improvement District after four years, Mrs Rayner went on: “If we were able in the first year of being a voluntary membership organisation to earn the trust of the community, we could look to become a BID. That would gain money we might miss out on as a Town Team.”
The Town Team’s websites are now up and running at www.sleafordtownteam.co.uk and www.facebook.com/sleafordtownteam.