AN ambitious bid has been launched to crown Bromsgrove’s high street as the best in Britain – although not everybody is convinced of its chances.

Traders and the council want to get the high street noticed by entering it into the Great British High Street 2018, in a bid to win the £10,000 prize.

Work to enter started two months ago after Bromsgrove District Council’s Centres Manager Cheryl Welsh approached local businesses to gauge interest.

She said: “We have a lot of independent traders who, in the last couple of years, have chosen Bromsgrove to be their place to do business.

“They are proud of our high street, and we should be too, so let’s boast about how Bromsgrove is better than ever.”

But chair of Bromsgrove Labour, cllr Michael Thompson, has questioned the bid.

He said: “If Bromsgrove has the high street of the year then it is not very good for Britain. If the high street of the year has got boarded up shops it is just awful.

“If you talk about the renovation of the high street it looks a lot nicer and there has been a lot of money spent on this vanity project.

“But there is no plan for businesses. We have seen shops like Mothercare and Pizza Hut close in the town and they have not been replaced as the rents are too high.

“When Waitrose came we were told it would help attract more businesses but we have not seen that.

“We have a big retail park coming and you can only see that draining the high street even further.

“The market is fine but we also nearly lost it. It had to have Labour and the market traders intervene.

“Talking to customers and traders I have not heard anything to suggest there is any more satisfaction on the High Street.

“The shops are still leaving and we have not seen any replaced.

“There is not much diversity either. We are not seeing great success.”

But the town’s wide-selection of independent businesses have hailed the high street’s vibe and atmosphere.

George Bayley, who opened bottle and beer shop Bayley’s in Worcester Road last year, said: “Bromsgrove has such a nice vibe and I am love how all the traders support each other and work together to create a great customer and visitor experience.”

Mark Tanner, director of Phoenix Carpets and Flooring, also in Worcester Road, said: “We have been a town centre business since 1999 and can confirm that the High Street – and Worcester Road, has changed for the better.”

Lorita Cornish who owns Decanter Spirit in High Street, added: “Bromsgrove independents are thriving in the town centre with a boom of new businesses opening recently.

“We are all working hard together to make sure Bromsgrove only gets better!”

The application will be submitted by the end of the month and if shortlisted Bromsgrove will go up against competitors in a public vote.

The application will also include a short video which will take in the High Street and Worcester Road.

The prize money will be put towards projects in the town.

Bromsgrove District Council’s portfolio holder for town centre regeneration, cllr Karen May, has thrown her weight behind the bid.

She said: “I am delighted to support this application, and our traders, who, supported by this council, are continuing to create a Better Bromsgrove for everyone to enjoy.”

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