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‘Hungerford is fantastic’ says local MP

on 30 January 2015.

fantastic town

During a busy day out and about in the constituency, West Berks MP Richard Benyon came to Hungerford to host one of his supermarket surgeries outside Tesco, a political ‘pop-up shop’ where locals can address their queries and concerns to our man in Westminster. Townsite asked him for his take on the state of the town.

‘Compared to many towns, Hungerford High Street is in good shape.It is better now than it has been for years and seeing Bridge Street lift like it has is really good.’ Libby Blakey’s stylish new interior design store is a case in point, a prime example of new businesses wanting to set up in the town.

The MP was upbeat about the town’s prospects. ‘Hungerford has been amazingly clever at giving people what they want and encouraging small independent shops to thrive. It’s attention to detail that matters and it’s important that the businesses that come are very professional with a proper business plan and approach to getting customers in.’

We asked him if he thought officialdom had a role to play in promoting prosperity at a local level? ‘The job of local

"What we'll see in the years ahead is a re-developed area which will much more welcoming."

fantastic towngovernment and particularly the town council is to make people want to come to Hungerford to spend their leisure pound as well as their commercial pound and making the whole visitor experience positive.The (railway) station needs to be much more of a gateway to the town and I know town councillors are really on this. It has been a long time coming but we have been having conversations with Network Rail and Great Western to make sure that Hungerford is a place that visitors and commuters want to come to. What we are going to see in the years ahead is a re-developed area which is going to be much more welcoming.’

 

Did he think the internet had a role to play in promoting Hungerford? ‘We’re all online now and sites like the Hungerford Townsite are really important. People all across the South, wondering what to do on a Saturday morning want a good online reference

"We’re all online now and sites like the Hungerford Townsite are really important."

With Libbey Blakey from Libby Blakey Designs

point to a community like this.’ We discussed the growing trend to shop online but but Benyon was confident about Hungerford’s retail resilience. ‘Even though people are buying online they still want to come and look at a product, talk to somebody behind the counter and have a nice meal. I travel around a lot and what I see going on around here is really good. I honestly believe that Hungerford is the best-kept secret in the south. People come up to me, people who have lived in the area for a long time but have never been to the town and say in an awed tone, ‘Hungerford is fantastic, you can get so much here.’

 

Did he feel that optimism was returning after the economic downturn? ‘We’ve got lots of new businesses starting up or wanting to start upand I think West Berks is one of the best places to start or grow a business.There is a pro business view in the local authority by and large which is really helpful.fantastic town

Richard Benyon talking to locals in Hungerford

There are also businesses that are expanding and look to Reading or Swindon to re-locate but it is often the workforce that wants to stay local. Hungerford has difficulties in that respect, we have some industrial space but not enough. In some ways it’s a nice problem to have, a sign that things are good.’

You can read the full interview with Richard Benyon MP here

 

 

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