Town teams can really work!

The market town of Watton has a population of around 8,000, with 8,000 more in surrounding villages. It has some 100 shops on its high street, most of which are independent, and the Wayland Chamber of Commerce formed the Watton Town Team with the aim of promoting these local businesses.

It’s wonderful, just over 12 months on, to reflect on a year of progress that has shown town teams really can work.

Local traders have become enthusiastic about the scheme – and no wonder!

The team’s work has led to a higher awareness of what Watton has to offer. On the days when our volunteers have run events, from classic car shows to book festivals, the town has seen increased footfall and improved sales.

An arms and militaria business has flourished, selling replica weapons and encouraging history re-enactment, and we hope to soon see a landlord move into empty premises on shared space.

Meanwhile, we have led two initiatives to further help traders improve their businesses: an entrepreneurs market where they can test their ideas, and advice evenings from the Wayland Chamber.

We look forward to keeping the momentum going next year, with plans to repeat successful events, increase common advertising, champion shared space, and perhaps create a Business Improvement District. There are also plans to put a marquee up over a widely-used pedestrian area.

As Chair of the Wayland Chamber, I am proud to have founded a town team that shows so much promise, and delighted to have a willing and dynamic Chairman in Chris Edwards to drive it forward.