November: The Bedford Independent has made a big impact in its short life so far, and I want to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to contribute to it.
I’m particularly pleased to see its growing reach and influence used to support local businesses via the Shop Local Bedford campaign.
Every day in the news we are all hearing stories which illustrate the crisis facing UK high streets, due to the rapid growth of online retail and other factors. Bedford has bucked the trend recently, with four straight years of footfall growth. But local traders face those same challenges as others nationwide.
That’s why they need our support, and it’s why we are working to support local traders and shoppers with yet another parking charge freeze for 2019. We’re also maintaining and extending the array of free parking offers available through the week.
In light of social and economic trends, we have a clear vision for a town centre that is attractive not only for retail but also leisure, culture, food and drink and more. But we have to get people into town first, and our Free Parking Deal is key to this effort. The ongoing footfall growth has coincided with our introduction of two hours’ free parking on Saturdays, and we want to help keep that going.
Bedford has a higher proportion of independents than elsewhere, and our town centre provides numerous employment and social opportunities for people right across the borough. So we want to give people every opportunity to visit and enjoy their town centre.
The Christmas shopping season is vital for local traders, and our big lights switch-on and fireworks is approaching fast on Thursday 22nd November. So why not make sure Bedford is part of your Christmas shopping plans, and enjoy your town centre this festive season and throughout the year?
This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mayor Dave Hodgson and published unedited.