Marlborough has a “death wish” about its future warns Chamber of Commerce
Only 18 out of 180 businesses in Marlborough bothered to complete a simple questionnaire hand delivered to their shops and offices in a bid to boost trade in the upmarket town.
A majority of them reacted negatively, rejecting any desire to play a positive role in the future of the town’s economy when asked the question, “What’s your vision for Marlborough’s future?”
Now Paul Shimell, newly-elected president of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, who issued the survey, has accused traders of “hiding behind their retail doors.”
He told Marlborough News Online: “It’s almost as if the town has a death wish. We are currently suffering from the worst recession in 40 years with businesses across the country failing and shops covered with 70 per cent off sale notices.”
“Yet here in Marlborough businesses seem to think they are immune, that it is going to pass them by like Hurricane Irene and that no action needs to be taken.”
He sought the views of businesses on imminent problems such as helping to fund the High Street lights this Christmas –- there is a danger they won’t happen at all -- the effects of the closure of Marlborough’s tourist information centre and the possible conversion of the Ivy House Hotel into a students’ hostel.
Mr Shimell, the franchise-holder of Specsavers, launched successfully in Marlborough 18 months ago, told traders he is seeking ways in which “working together we can promote Marlborough and attract people to the town, and help grow our businesses.”
His message to businesses declared: “We need to take action to keep Marlborough vibrant, a great attraction for tourists, an essential shopping centre and service point for its residents. “But first I need to know what you think.”
Following the poor response – the questionnaire was hand delivered by two volunteer employees of Waitrose, Marlborough’s biggest business – Mr Shimell is looking at alternative ways of promoting Marlborough.
He is in discussion too with members of Marlborough town council, who are equally alarmed by the refusal of traders even to provide details of their phone numbers and email addresses by which they can be regularly contacted.
“We shall not give up,” he said. “I come from Wootton Bassett, where the amazing community spirit has earned it a royal accolade, and I have been to Hungerford, where the traders work remarkably well together to make the town prosper.
We shall build on the contact with the 18 positive responses. Slowly but surely, we shall attempt to make Marlborough’s businesses understand that the days of automatic affluence are over.
“We all need to act together if Marlborough is to survive the worst aspects of the commercial storm ahead.”
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