Confidence in future high in Wirksworth

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Out of all the Dales towns surveyed in the retail assessment, Wirksworth came out as the most individual.

While the results show businesses in Matlock and Bakewell are more pessimistic, Wirksworth traders are broadly confident in their town.

Comments from traders included: “The town is on the up,” “the town is looking better than it has in recent years,” “the town increasingly has a lot to offer,” and “shops are now full and new ones are opening soon.”

The consultants highlighted the lack of national chains in Wirksworth and uncovered a lot of pride in the town.

Seventy-two per cent of traders surveyed said a new or expanded supermarket would not benefit them.

One trader stated: “Large supermarkets kill off small traders, making the town less attractive to prospective customers.”

Another added: “It would ruin the town like Sainsbury’s has done in Matlock.”

Several traders cited Sainsbury’s in Matlock to illustrate the perceived harm done when large supermarkets open in small towns and one business said they had relocated from Matlock to Wirksworth after the store opened.

Mayor Andy Pollock said: “We do have a fair mix of shops in the town.

“I think people feel very protective of our shops and generally think people want to support what we have got and shop locally.”

The results show the town centre has improved over the past decade and various events held in the town – such as the arts festival – are considered to be a particular strength.

However, the assessment showed Wirksworth is relatively quiet and traders supported plans to expand the town, providing the unique character is preserved.

The redevelopment of the Vaults is pointed to as an opportunity for widening retail offer.

As in other centres, the issue of car parking pricing structure was cited as the main disadvantage with extreme anger at the town’s traffic wardens.

The report concludes: “Wirksworth has moved on from its historical function as a quarrying town and nowadays has the potential to be an attractive ‘day trip’ destination.

“There is potential to bring in many more visitors to the town both by improved marketing of the town and by building on the success of events such as the arts festival.”