New group’s mission is to fight for the future of Leighton Buzzard’s town centre

Members of the Leighton Buzzard FSB Business Group (L-R) Caron Kendall  (FSB Development Manager),  Nigel Carnell, Alice Lewis, Andrena Carden-White, Gennaro Borrelli, Lyndie Lothian, Fiona Peck, Karin Kaye.
Members of the Leighton Buzzard FSB Business Group (L-R) Caron Kendall (FSB Development Manager), Nigel Carnell, Alice Lewis, Andrena Carden-White, Gennaro Borrelli, Lyndie Lothian, Fiona Peck, Karin Kaye.

The inaugural meeting of a new group of Leighton Buzzard businesses has been held with a mission to keep the town centre thriving and growing in the face of threats from large retail developments nearby.

The meeting, held Sacred Heart RC Church in Leighton Buzzard was put together by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to ensure that the town’s small business community benefit from the planned growth of the town and it was led by local resident and salon owner Gennaro Borelli, an active FSB member,

At the meeting is was decided that local FSB members who recognise the importance of town centre businesses to the vibrancy of the town would form a group who will meet up regularly to decide how best to promote the high street to both established and new residents of Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area.

They are planning further meetings in the new year along with activity that will involve a regular local newsletter, and events to highlight local issues and promote the Leighton Buzzard’s high street.

This autumn, FSB set out a plan to help small high street businesses, urging policymakers to target areas like business rates, parking and improving local roads and bank branch closures.

With parking and infrastructure remaining a huge issue for high streets, FSB is calling on local authorities across England to provide more free parking to encourage shoppers back to the high street all year round, making sure any proposed increases to charges are assessed for their impact on town centres.

High parking charges and a lack of spaces often put off shoppers from visiting town centres, instead favouring out of town centres with free parking.

FSB is also asking for increased funding for local road maintenance, fairer distribution of Government cash on major road network projects and improved local transport to make sure routes into town centres are in a good state of repair for both businesses and consumers.

The local group are particularly keen to ensure that there are good public transport links and that local planning policies protect the town centre of Leighton Buzzard

Gennaro Borelli said: “There is lots of planned growth in Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area and therefore there is opportunity for small, independent businesses to thrive with right infrastructure and support without losing its market town feel and status.

“It was great that our local businesses came together to plan and to work towards the sort of small town that residents and businesses alike would want to support.

“We know that small business owners are resilient, but it’s important that decision makers look at real solutions to issues impacting town centres, so that our high streets are not only able to survive, but to thrive.

“Investing in the road network, fixing potholes quickly and providing more town centre free parking would make a real difference to small firms in places like Leighton Buzzard.

“We are delighted that FSB is supporting our local campaign to help promote the unique offer that independent business bring to the town, which is very apt given that we have Small Business Saturday coming up on December 1.”

If you are a local business and would like to find out more how you can get involved contact Caron Kendall at caron.kendall@fsb.org.uk or on 07917 628998.