Making plans for future of town

AS MASSIVE redevelopment plans loom over Letchworth GC, a newly appointed town centre manager has vowed to represent the people in the town, keep them informed and help smooth the path to change. Martin Fletcher is commanding a salary in excess of £45,0

AS MASSIVE redevelopment plans loom over Letchworth GC, a newly appointed town centre manager has vowed to represent the people in the town, keep them informed and "help smooth the path" to change.

Martin Fletcher is commanding a salary in excess of £45,000 - justified because of his "complex project experience", according to North Hertfordshire District Council.

Mr Fletcher, who has previously worked as a town centre manager for Angel in Islington, north London, and Maidenhead in Berkshire, said: "I have been involved in town centre management initiatives in a hands-on capacity for five years.

"I'm well used to the disruption that redevelopment can bring and the challenges that can be presented by it," he said.


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When asked how he will focus on the needs of individual businesses, particularly those affected by the redevelopment process, Mr Fletcher said: "Obviously people are very nervous about change, and understandably so, but when you see the big changes taking place in all the surrounding towns we have to respond to that.

"There are obvious things we need to look at, like marketing and information for businesses and their customers in the town centre, so people know what's going to happen and when there is going to be disruption."

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He added: "It's about understanding the point of view of all stakeholders, shoppers and visitors, the residents and the businesses themselves.

"At the very least they will be kept entirely informed and will hopefully have some input with the contractors.

"We need to work together to find the best way to do things."

Mr Fletcher also said: "We need to increase the members of the town centre partnership and explain how businesses can get involved - purely so we can represent more people and do a better job.

"If there are enough people of like minds then we can change things. I would like to think we can make more happen."

When asked what he has in the pipeline for the future, Mr Fletcher said: "I think marketing and events are the big thing. We have a well-established farmers' market which we want to build on and make sure it prospers.

"The scope for more events is there, as well as linking together existing events."

He added: "We are also hopeful in the very near future that we will be announcing the re-launch of the shopletchworth.com website."

A number of people, including the director general of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation Stuart Kenny, have complained about the sparse sprinkling of festive lights in Letchworth at Christmas.

Mr Kenny said: "The heritage foundation met the entire cost of the street Christmas lights, but I suspect that it falls to a number of other organisations to make further contributions.

"A few friends of mine have intimated to me that Hitchin lights were rather impressive, so all credit to the retailers and other businesses that funded them.

"Clearly, the garden city must do better next year."

In response, Mr Fletcher said: "Letchworth is very fortunate that Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation pay for the lights in the town.

"I think the trouble is that festive illuminations are phenomenally expensive.

"Obviously once things have been up a few years we can improve on them if we have the money and resources."

In his new role as Letchworth town centre manager, Mr Fletcher concluded: "I just want to meet more and more people in the town and hope I will be available to people and can make a difference.

"The change is going to happen and I want to help smooth the path and make it easy for everybody so everybody benefits from the changes.

"It's a great town and I think it's got a great future.

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