Special team formed to head-up Hailsham’s recovery

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

Plans to kick-start the town’s economic recovery were sounded at a meeting of Hailsham Town Team.

The problem of empty shops in the market town topped concerns at the meeting on November 30 – the first since the team launched in September.

There are currently 12 vacant retail spaces in the town centre.

The team heard that 78 per cent of people believe the economic revitalisation of Hailsham is a top priority, according to a town council survey.

One short term suggestion made by the team was to place images of a shop printed on vinyl sheets in the windows of empty retail spaces to create the illusion they are occupied.

The town team was formed to ensure economic growth and to monitor development as set out in the ‘Hailsham: The Way Forward’ project document. The team consists of representatives from the business, educational and council community.

A six-man executive team made up of members was created to oversee the revitalisation plans during the meeting at Diplocks Community Centre.

East Sussex County Cllr Roger Thomas is part of the team. He said: “Wherever you go there are towns and cities very much like Hailsham with empty shops.

“There’s nothing worse than a shop closing down and looking like a prison or empty abyss.

“So making the empty shops more attractive is of importance. We need to make people see that we are trying to give the town a brighter and better image, a more positive image, because if we are positive we can go forward.”

Last month the project received a £10,000 government grant to put elements of the town improvement plan into action.

Business development committee vice-chairman Cllr Bill Bentley said: “The Hailsham Town Team recognises that our town centre is in need of improvement and that as our town expands, the road system will need to be increasingly well managed and issues will need to be identified relating to economic revitalisation, community safety and other salient issues. Hailsham is already on the road to regeneration with the opening of the refurbished Civic Community Centre, the Asda supermarket and other smaller independent businesses. The town needs to build on these successes and that’s where the Hailsham Town Team comes in.”

Mickey Caira, business enterprise manager, said: “The overall objectives and individual actions of the Hailsham Town Team will be developed over a period of time, and detailed action plans will be continually reviewed and updated as part of regular meetings to be held between the partners to help improve Hailsham.”