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What do people really think of Ashbourne?

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: September 19, 2012

By Natalie Wakefield

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A RAFT of damning statistics about Ashbourne's economy has spurred a group of traders into tackling the town's troubles.

Shoppers and businesses have revealed in surveys that fewer people are spending in the town centre and trade has slumped.

The newly formed Ashbourne Traders Group has taken on the challenge of collating results from a wide-ranging survey conducted by the News Telegraph last year and created their own traders' questionnaire to establish footfall through the town centre.

Manager at Mind charity shop, Tim Baker, helped found the group. He said: "We decided to have an informal discussion group, which took hold and there was a real momentum.

"There was the option for people to write any personal feelings on our questionnaire and the response really blew me away.

"We had been told if we did a survey, to get a 15 per cent response would be classed as good and we got 73 per cent.

"Now we want to inform people of the results and we want to be a group of action.

"We have had meetings with Ashbourne Partnership and the town council and there are lots of things identified for future discussion."

The survey found that 67 per cent of traders' takings were down on last year; 88 per cent felt footfall was worse than 2011 and 73 per cent predicted a gloomy future.

From the News Telegraph survey, shoppers revealed that: Seventy-eight per cent felt Ashbourne was failing to do enough to attract visitors; Eighty-two per cent wanted shops to open on Sundays; Fifty-two per cent never visited the Thursday market, but 44 per cent wanted to keep it; Eighty-three per cent felt that parking was too expensive; Seventy-seven per cent want more "big name" stores in the town including Argos, Wilkinson and Next.

Natural Choice proprietor, Steve Parker, said: "I'm really glad the group is evolving and we have got support from the town council and Ashbourne Partnership.

"There's lots to do and I don't think anything that can be done is possible for one group, it's got to be everyone pulling together.

"If the retailers can't put Ashbourne back on the map, no-one can.

"Visitors expect it to be a market town and that is the way forward.

I think the group will get people into action and exploring new avenues.

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