The leader of Ashfield District Council has vowed to do what he can to breathe new life into Kirkby’s economy.
Coun Chris Baron, who took over at the top in May, says he wants to see more jobs created and more stability brought to the town’s economy.
Kirkby has seen an excelleration in business development over the last two years with Morrisons and pub chain Wetherspoons amongst the businesses to have opened new outlets.
Further jobs are expected to be created later this year when a new Co-op and Thorntons throw open their doors for business.
New plans to give Kirkby town centre and the precinct area a major facelift, which include creating a ‘heart’ to the town centre, creating gateways into the town centre with artwork and signs and improving car parking, are expected to be revealed shortly.
Coun Baron said Kirkby had made a number of positive changes in recent months to bring more shoppers into the area.
He said: “We want independent stores to know they will get as much support as we can possibly offer.
“Morrisons has made a large difference to the town centre, not only in helping to regenarate the area but also employing more people here, which is much needed. It has also created a passing trade for many smaller shops.
“We are putting a lot of money into rejuvenating the town centre. If the plans are approved, section 106 agreements from developers will help to massively improve the area and it will look absolutely fantastic.”
But councillors representing the town say more needs to be done to make sure more families are drawn to Kirkby.
Coun Cheryl Butler, who represents the Kirkby central ward, said: “We would like to see the redevelopment done a bit quicker, but there are ways we have to do things. The planning for the new precinct is all in but we are waiting on the final funding.
“We want to make sure we do it right. I think it will be excellent for the area when it is done, it’s what Kirkby needs.
“We have recently had Morrisons move in and we want other companies to come as well, hopefully with the redevelopment of the town square it will attract other businesses too.
“I am working hard to try and get more things for families like an ice rink to come to Kirkby at Christmas.”
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero backed Ashfield District Council’s ongoing regeneration plans and said that standing still was not an option for Kirkby.
She said: “Standing still isn’t an option and the council has put forward exciting plans to revitalise our town centre and the surrounding area.
“If the plans can make the town more appealing to shoppers and boost trade for existing businesses, attracting new ones at the same time and improving leisure opportunities, then it will be a good thing.
“Like every Kirkby resident, as the local MP I want to see Kirkby flourish.
“It has an industrial heritage to shout from the roof tops about and it helped power Great Britain for years, employing thousands in the process but that doesn’t have to mean the town’s best days are behind it. Far from it.”
Tell us what you think of Kirkby town centre revamp and the state of the economy. Get in touch why Isabel Dunmore by calling 01623 450294
See next week’s Chad for a special look at local shops in the town and their thoughts on its economy.