Thriving town centres key to Forest of Dean's economic future
GETTING shoppers back to the Forest of Dean's town centres is key to making sure the area thrives.
That's the central message after the first meeting of a new group set up to bolster the district's economic fortunes.
Town centres in Lydney, Coleford, Cinderford and Newent will be under the microscope of the district council's Growing the Economy Cabinet Support Group.
It has held its preliminary meeting and over the coming months is aiming to develop a strategy to support business.
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The group supports the work of, and is chaired by, the council's member for regeneration Patrick Molyneux.
It will initially be looking at the four market town centres and what is needed to help them thrive.
A council spokesman said: "It was agreed that the unique selling point for the area as a whole is tourism so one area the group will be looking at is how towns can connect with the tourism industry in a better way."
Coun Molyneux said: "The first meeting was looking at how the group could work – there are a range of views at the moment and we will hone this down to practical things to help the towns meet the economic and social challenges that they face now and in the future.
"In a time when internet shopping and big out of town shopping centres are popular it's important our towns in the Forest attract people in to use the shops and businesses on offer.
"This group will be looking at what can be done to make a difference to our towns.
"We will be working with town councils, local businesses and organisations including traders' associations to shape this work and identify where we can work in partnership."