BACK OUR TOWN: 'Business rates seriously need to be reduced'

Pictured from left-right: shop manager of six years, Wendy McCausland and shop assistant Alisha Rehmatullah at Browne's Olde Sweet Shop in the Grosvenor Centre. The firm can even supply sweets to weddings.
Pictured from left-right: shop manager of six years, Wendy McCausland and shop assistant Alisha Rehmatullah at Browne's Olde Sweet Shop in the Grosvenor Centre. The firm can even supply sweets to weddings.

As part of our campaign to get more shoppers stepping foot inside Northampton's independent retailers, tradespeople have told us what should be done to improve our town.

Here in Northampton, we have a thriving mix of independent shops, boutique fashion stores and cultured cafes the envy of other like-sized market towns.

Our hope over June is to shine a light on those independent stores, cafes and restaurants, tucked away in arcades or side streets many may not realise exist.

But they need your help to survive.

Brownes Old Sweet Shop, which has been trading for seven years, is a traditional confectionary shop that gives customers the chance to choose their own sweets, with a selection of over 500 different treats in store.

The firm, which is based in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, caters for anyone with special dietary requirements, such as those with diabetes, those who eat a gluten-free diet and has a selection of vegan confectionary too.

Owner Prem Majithria said the town could benefit from other independent stores setting up in the town, as he claims they "are the pillar of the economy" and different types of shops would entice more people to visit Northampton.

But in order to achieve this, they need a helping hand.

He said business rates need to be reduced in order to attract new businesses to set up, or the high street will cease to exist.

"If that happens then all of us independents will have no choice but to close down,” he said.

Other suggestions from different business owners include putting signs on Abington Street to give direction to St Giles Street, adapting empty shop units into trade fairs for small businesses to sell their wares, introducing leisure rates in a bid to set up entertainment venues for adults and to bring back free parking on the weekends.

He added: "Footfall definitely needs to be better - it has been in decline year on year.

"The high street needs to be revamped with new innovative business ideas...our turnover has declined due to the lack of footfall."