Ideas to breathe life into Westbury village centre
Ideas to improve the current offer of shops in Westbury-on-Trym town centre were sought from the packed audience of local business people, residents and councillors who greeted Amanda George, chair of the Westbury-on-Trym Business Association (WOTBA) at the beginning of September.
Amanda, the owner of We Make Bristol, opened her gift shop in the village two years ago. She said: “I joined WOTBA earlier this year because I am passionate about the area that I live in and also chose to set up my business in.
“Since being appointed chair I have had a stream of people - both businesses and residents - contacting me about their many concerns. Most of these have been about issues surrounding the village, and what has become apparent through all these people coming to see me is that everyone wants things to change.”
Concerns about businesses closing in the village, the lack of a proper chemist since Lloyds shut, empty shops, problems with parking, the increase in crime and a drop in footfall have all been raised many times by many people recently.
Amanda explained that she’d like to implement a full regeneration programme which would look to address many of these issues and also help all of the businesses in our local area. Not just the shops but offices and businesses that operate from home too, keeping the focus on what we have locally and make it better. She’s keen to keep money in our local area so that our community regains pride in itself and flourishes.
Ideas about putting on themed events, such as a home renovation show where people meet the local trades people were discussed and greeted positively, as was the idea of a regular Farmers Market in Carlton Court, similar to the one in Whiteladies Road, to attract younger visitors on a Saturday.
The meeting ended with an agreement to put together a small group to look at national retailers that would be an asset to the village with a view to contacting them about the larger vacant units such as the Co-op bank and Gourmet Catch.
A scheme called ‘Shop Watch’ was suggested as a way of helping with retail security as well as keeping in regular contact with the beat manager for the area. There have been a number of recent burglaries but they haven’t been officially connected because cases aren’t linked.
The next step is a more detailed meeting on September 28 with those who are to help, when the team start to look at specifics.
The Henleaze and Westbury Voice will keep you updated about all the developments following on from this meeting in our next issue.