Key town in key location
The historic market town of Newark on Trent has been in the glare of the public eye nationally during the past year, and it is a trend that looks set to continue.
With the Royal opening of the National Civil War centre, the campaign to improve train services on the Castle Line between Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham and celebrities gracing the town for the launch of an innovative business initiative, the name of Newark will reach all corners of the country.
At the moment, retailers and businesses in the town are gearing up for the festive trading period and there is quite a lot happening in Newark in the run-up to Christmas aimed at attracting more people into the area and increasing footfall into the centre.
Town Council clerk Alan Mellor said: “Over the past few years the Town Council has invested quite a lot in the Christmas lights displays in the town centre and they are now quite stunning.
“We are trying to encourage people to visit Newark to shop over this period and there are a number of events taking place including the Christmas Market and Winter Feast, the Christmas Tree Festival and the seasonal Christmas markets with street entertainers.
“There is also free parking in all Newark car parks operated by Newark & Sherwood District Council every Sunday until 20th December.
Newark Business Club’s retail group is all set for the Christmas push which will include Sunday trading.
Group chair Elaine Ellison said: “We are working very closely with the town council. At the lights switch-on event we had a Totally Locally stand and leaflets went out into all the shops.
“Shopping is vibrant in Newark and the most important thing is that on Sundays in December parking is free in Newark & Sherwood District Council car parks.
“We don’t have many shops open on Sundays normally but they will be open all day near Christmas. Our retailers are up and running and are ready for the Christmas blitz.”
For the first time, the town can enjoy a Winter Feast event along with the Christmas market on 13th December 2015.
“The Winter Feast event starts at noon and finishes later on in the evening to encourage people to use the eateries in the town. Newark has excellent eateries, pubs etc and we are hoping the event will do well,” said Elaine.
Newark Business Club has welcomed the free parking initiative.
Club chair Amy Codd said: “This is fantastic for both retailers and Newark businesses, and the Business Club is delighted that the District Council has made such a robust and determined decision which will benefit the whole town.”
The club now has a membership of more than 1,000 people and regularly has 100-plus people attending the monthly meetings.
“Size-wise that means we can continue with our support to local businesses.
“We have historical involvement on the railway issue and we are still very involved. We have been to London, pressing members to supply some funding and questioning whether it is the right strategy to involve Greater Nottingham and East Midlands trains and to put our opinions across. We hopefully have a meeting with the minister to take this forward,” said Amy.
The club is also looking as a collective at the proposed planning application from Sainsbury’s for a store.
“That is quite significant. It is planning that we need to make sure we are involved in. It has a huge impact on local businesses but also on the traffic situation as well. Traffic in Newark is already a big issue and the impact of traffic within this area will be significant.”
It is hoped that Newark’s new southern relief road which is taking shape will ease town congestion and benefit the local economy. The road is part of the £500 million Growth Point development south of Newark planned by Urban and Civic. The route will eventually link the A46 at Farndon with the A1 at Fernwood.
Amy said it is hoped that the relief road will lead to new jobs and new businesses in the area and have a positive impact on traffic congestion.
Newark was the centre of national attention earlier this year when the Earl of Wessex officially opened the UK’s first ever visitor attraction dedicated to telling the epic story of the seventeenth-century British Civil Wars.
The National Civil War Centre, in the refurbished sixteenth-century Old Magnus building in Appletongate, Newark, is a flagship £5.4m project by Newark and Sherwood District Council – supported by £3.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
In the first three months of its opening, the centre welcomed more than 12,000 visitors a week and more than 1,700 people have bought season tickets for the museum.
When it opened, it was predicted that about 60,000 people would visit the museum, boosting the local economy by at least £1.8 million. The centre is continuing to help put Newark on the global map.
Movies featured at the National Civil War Centre and in the town trail in Newark have won two international accolades at the annual Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards.
Silver Dolphin trophies were won by Nottingham-based filmmakers Spool UK which was chosen by Newark and Sherwood District Council to make the series of films.
The entire series, which can be seen at the National Civil War Centre and around the town via smartphones or tablet computers, won the silver prize in the ‘Fairs, Shows, Events and Meeting Openers’ category.
And the movie trailer which previews the town trail took silver in the ‘Streaming/Web-TV’ category.
Newark and Sherwood District Council chief executive Andrew Muter said: “This is a real accolade for Newark and I am so proud of all the people at the council and from Spool who put their creative energy into these high quality films.”
Television star Jason Bradbury, presenter of the Gadget Show and inventor of the world’s first working jet-powered hoverboard, also showed his support for Newark when he came to town to help launch Newark & Sherwood as a district of technology know-how.
Silicon Forest is a new business initiative promoting innovation and technology and aims to build on the district’s growing reputation as a centre for advances in those fields.
Companies in the district already signed up to take part include AVG (which has its international base in Newark), Node4, Vodafone, Timico, Reconnix, Jelly Products, the National IT Learning Centre, Barcode Warehouse, Ampetronic and Reflex Gaming.
Silicon Forest aims to showcase new products and technologies, create a meet-up culture, establish ‘fab labs’ where budding designers and entrepreneurs can test out new ideas, develop skills and expertise in the area and encourage tech companies and their partners to locate in the district.
Julie Reader-Sullivan, business manager for economic growth at Newark and Sherwood District Council said: “We are helping to support students and businesses with opportunities to network, try out new ideas and help recruit the best people for our businesses.
“With companies like Jelly Products, Timico, Bazzoo and the National IT Learning Centre, we have lots to be proud of. Silicon Forest will turn the district into a key player in technological innovation.”
NEWARK’S RETAIL SCENE
There is a large selection of independent retailers and high street stores in Newark, offering an eclectic mix of goods and services.
Many of the shops face the town’s historic market place, which has regular open air markets, and a large number are long-established businesses that have been part of the streetscene for decades.
Jane Young, which has been established in the town since 1955, trades from two shops – on either side of Chain Lane.
Selling high-class and designer fashions, occasion wear and bridal outfits, it has become a bit of an institution throughout the East Midlands and attracts a wide range of clientele from all over the country, helping to put Newark on the shopping destination map.
Designer brands include Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Betty Barclay and its experienced and highly trained staff offer a bespoke tailoring service ensuring a customer’s outfit is perfect before it leaves the shop. Coffee is always on hand and daily newspapers, magazines and comfortable sofas are provided to keep the men amused and happy.
Ann et Vin is another Newark business whose reputation is known far and wide. The fine wine retailer has been established in Castle Gate for nine years but has built up an extensive customer base.
It also houses its own Courtyard Wine Bar where people can relax and try any one of the 500 wines or champagnes which are on sale in the wine shop. Customers can also enjoy a light meal made from local ingredients.
Newark is also home to the largest independent reseller of Breitling and luxury watches in the UK.
Andrew Michael’s Jewellers has served the town and surrounding area for more than thirty years. The business has provided excellent and reliable customer service and has ensured a steady expansion to nationwide jewellery supply with a team of experts onsite to deal with all requests.
Another business, which is one of the busiest and most highly regarded in town is Stray’s. Family-owned and run, it covers a variety of sectors. Stray’s has a unique coffee bar, an eatery, a jazz haven and a bookshop across numbers 16-20 Middlegate and “around the corner” taking in cottages in Boar Lane.
NEW HEADQUARTERS FOR COUNCIL
Another important initiative which will bring more people into the town centre is the relocation of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s HQ into Newark.
Moving to modern, cost-effective and efficient offices on a site next to the Cattle Market, off the Great North Road, Newark, which will be shared with a number of public sector partners, will save council taxpayers in the region of £500,000 each year.
And the move from the authority’s current offices in Kelham to premises close to the town centre, will improve access for customers and residents. With more than 230 staff working close to town centre businesses and services, it is expected to have a positive impact on the local economy, supporting the council’s prosperity agenda.
Newark and Sherwood District Council leader Councillor Roger Blaney said: “I am very pleased that we can now move forward with this important project, which will bring many positive benefits to our customers and residents.
“We will be investing in new, smaller and energy efficient offices which will be more accessible to the public, offer much greater flexibility and will be much cheaper to run. The council will make significant savings while protecting frontline services.”
The council will share the new offices with the Department for Work and Pensions and the council’s housing company, Newark and Sherwood Homes.
It is also looking at the possibility of working with other partners from the public and voluntary sector.
Earlier this year the council sold the Grade I listed Kelham Hall which has been the authority’s HQ for the past forty years.
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