I love Hucknall scheme aims to breath new life into town centre economy

Hucknall High Street.
Hucknall High Street.

I LOVE Hucknall has been chosen as the iconic name of a newly-formed team which has been tasked with breathing new life into the town.

The group, which had adopted the logo of a red heart, aims to reinvigorate Hucknall as a place to visit and shop and give a big boost to local business.

Chris Thorne, of the Total Look beauty salon on Watnall Road has been elected as chairman of the team, while Mark Allison, of the Sweet Cafe on High Street, is the group’s treasurer.

“I’m really relishing the prospect of rising to the challenge,” said Mr Thorne. “I have been heavily involved in campaigning for free parking in the town, but that is a minor issue.

“The major issue is ceasing the decline of the High Street by increasing choice through the number and quality of outlets.

“Our objectives through I Love Hucknall is to encourage new small businesses to start up and also for us to liaise with the local authorities and groups to raise awareness of what’s available.

“We will also be investigating possible ways to increase the incentives for businesses to start up and once they are up and running to give them the necessary support to continue. We don’t expect miracles overnight but to help in a small way and achieve our goals.”

Sheila Robinson, of Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, said she was delighted that traders had come forward to fill the committee positions.

She said: “While the involvement of councillors and council employees is welcome for their expertise, the group must aim to be independent.

“The team also agreed to adopt a constitution, which will be the main item on the agenda of its next meeting.”

The town team is now be looking to tap into new financial sources to move their plans forward through fundraising initiatives.

Paul Thomas, a regeneration manager for similar scheme based in Mansfield and Ashfield, attended the team’s latest meeting at the Under One Roof centre on Hucknall’s Vine Terrace to offer advice.

“At the moment, we are made up of some 26 members but are hopeful that more traders will join the group once they realise what we are about,” added Sheila. “The intention is to bring more business into the town centre and make it a more attractive place to visit and shop.

“Everyone is invited to join and bring with them their ideas. There is a lot of enthusiasm at the moment and we all want it to go from strenth to strength.”

The team agreed to conduct a survey of Hucknall residents to find out how they thought the town centre could be improved.

A draft of the questionnaire will be circulated among members so that final points can be changed if necessary before it is made available to the public.

The meeting was told that enquiries had been made as to whether I Love Hucknall could be included in the forthcoming Byron Festival but the programme had already been printed.

The group is, however, hoping to have a stall at a heritage fair, to be held at the Central Methodist Church, Baker Street on Saturday 6th July.

Copies of the proposed survey would be handed out as part of a bid to raise people’s awareness of the group.

It was also agreed to approach Ashfield District Council’s markets department with a request for a free stall on Hucknall’s Bargain Market on Thursday 27th June and Thursday 4th July to coincide with the Byron Festival.

The team’s next meeting will be held at Watnall Road Baptist Church on Wednesday 12th June, starting at 6.15 pm.

Martin Leach, chairman of the now-defunct Hucknall Business Voice, will be invited to the meeting to discuss a hand-over of its assets to the new group.

Such topics as the Hucknall masterplan, parking charges and empty shops will be debated at later meetings, once the group is fully established.