Urgent action needed to save Chard town centre, former chamber boss warns

Urgent action needed to save Chard town centre, former chamber boss warns

Urgent action needed to save Chard town centre, former chamber boss warns

First published in News This is The West Country: Photograph of the Author by

A WINDOW of opportunity to save Chard town centre is quickly diminishing, according to the former chair of the town’s chamber of commerce.

Graham Barnes, 57, of Chard, said he warned that independent shops would start to close in five years if the town could not offer something unique to shoppers.

The News revealed last week that the Wool ‘n’ Craft shop in Pig Lane and Shoe Time and Chard Surplus in Holyrood Street would close in coming weeks.

Mr Barnes said: “I was on the initial stages of the town team, but nobody has any ideas or gumption to move this town forward, so I felt disillusioned by the end of it.

“The internet has made it more challenging to survive in the town, but you have to give people the reason to come here in the first place.

“If nothing changes other shops will go down the same route and then the window of opportunity to recover diminishes.

“It isn’t easy for town centres, but you have to come up with a formulation of ideas, otherwise the battle’s lost and the writing’s on the wall.”

Mr Barnes said an influx of charity shops, multi-nationals and financial buildings would not give people a reason to shop in Chard.

Chard Town Team was set up three years ago to help regenerate the town, and chairman Garry Shortland said they are trying to boost Chard, organising the Christmas lights switchon last year, Easter promotions and installing trees in the centre of the town.

He said: “There’s stuff being done, but you can’t just wave a magic wand.

“We saw it coming and we’re doing all we can, but we need traders to work towards stemming it a little bit and to come up with a strategy to save Chard.

“The regeneration of Chard is coming along in the next couple of years, but the new life is in the lower part of the town and it’s the upper part of the town where the shops seem to be closing.”

Chard Town Team’s AGMis on Wednesday, March 26, at 6pm at the Guildhall and all the town’s traders are invited to attend.

Mr Shortland said: “To save Chard it has to come from the ground and we need people to put their ideas forward for what they think will work.”

Comments (2)

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8:02pm Sun 23 Mar 14

Hugo101 says...

We seem to have a Town Team devoid of any ideas for the town.

The line the "regenerations scheme will be along in a couple of years!"; pull the other one, it will be a Costa Coffee and another supermarket which will result in more local business closures.

Remember the Postas Pilot scheme, well we seem to have the Pompous Pillock scheme in Chard!
We seem to have a Town Team devoid of any ideas for the town. The line the "regenerations scheme will be along in a couple of years!"; pull the other one, it will be a Costa Coffee and another supermarket which will result in more local business closures. Remember the Postas Pilot scheme, well we seem to have the Pompous Pillock scheme in Chard! Hugo101
  • Score: 2

10:29pm Tue 25 Mar 14

sheilamary says...

We need a small M&S and a Waitrose to liven up the town centre and bring more people in. The market needs to attract more people from Chard and outsiders. Regular Saturday and midweek markets should be pursued as in other Somerset towns! After all...it is a market town. Farmers markets etc . Foodie stalls and arts and crafts could become very popular. This would help the smaller specialist shops in town...Chard needs a future!! Parts of it are very attractive for Tourists. Other parts are embarrassing ...take for example the dilapidated building opposite Chard School...which is for sale and has been for ages.
Do we have anyone with the time and energy and foresight to put Chard on the map for good reasons in the driving seats?
We need a small M&S and a Waitrose to liven up the town centre and bring more people in. The market needs to attract more people from Chard and outsiders. Regular Saturday and midweek markets should be pursued as in other Somerset towns! After all...it is a market town. Farmers markets etc . Foodie stalls and arts and crafts could become very popular. This would help the smaller specialist shops in town...Chard needs a future!! Parts of it are very attractive for Tourists. Other parts are embarrassing ...take for example the dilapidated building opposite Chard School...which is for sale and has been for ages. Do we have anyone with the time and energy and foresight to put Chard on the map for good reasons in the driving seats? sheilamary
  • Score: 0

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