Shabby shops ruin town’s image

Hailsham High Street - closed-down shops
Hailsham High Street - closed-down shops

Business owners are being urged to spruce up shabby shop fronts in a bid to boost the image of Hailsham.

Shop keepers are being called to bring poorly maintained buildings up to scratch by the town’s Chamber of Commerce as part of the town’s regeneration.

The initiative was one of the ideas outlined during a meeting of the Hailsham Forward executive meeting.

Plans for a new web-site, signage on the A22 and A271 and the opening of a pop-up shop in Vicarage Field next month for the public and businesses to give feedback, were also sounded at the meeting on March 1.

Anton Bree, chairman of the Chamber of commerce and member of the executive team, advised the meeting that the Chamber was about to contact all shopkeepers in respect of poorly maintained shop fronts.

He said he hoped shops would cooperate with the shop front regeneration.

He added: “It’s something we would all like to see but the reality of it is it’s probably down to tenants or free holders and so where we can encourage and cajole, we cannot force people if they don’t want to spend money.

“I don’t think the chamber or the council has thousands of pounds to throw at it but what we can do is encourage people to put at least a coat of paint on the ground floor of their shops.

“At the end of the day it’s the image of the town.

“It’s the start of project because no one has a magic wand but we are trying to move things on and encourage people to get involved.”

Mickey Caira, from Hailsham Town Council and executive member, said the team was pleased the wider group of people at the meeting were fully supportive of the scheme.

He said: “People are going away and doing things, not just the executive team. As we are doing things people are becoming more aware and we are having organisations come to us and ask to join in.”

He added: “I don’t know why Hailsham is bucking the trend of empty shops, it may just be because having a project like this going on people are more positive about moving into the town.

“We believe what we are doing is helping Hailsham and helping persuade people to invest in the town.”

It is hoped a pop-up shop will open in April to consult with residents and businesses and gauge opinion on what is felt to be the best way forward in the town’s regeneration.

The town team was formed to oversee economic growth and monitor the progress as set out in the ‘Hailsham: The Way Forward’ document.