Pointing the way to a brighter future

Premier Inn Tunbridge Wells

Community businesses in Tonbridge are to benefit from new signs which identify local shops and trades.

Stores in Martin Hardie Way have welcomed the improvements, which also include new street paving.

The parade of shops received a share of a £30,000 borough council improvement fund to support small traders who are facing increased competition from larger stores and internet-based businesses.

The inspiration for the area’s new look came from a national Shop Local project which aims to provide greater support to small and medium-sized businesses.

Higham ward borough councillor Frixos Tombolis said the relatively modest figure of £3,000 invested in Martin Hardie Way would prove effective in highlighting the range of businesses operating in the area.

He said: “The improved signage will help stores and I think it’s important to have such shops as they are part of a community.”

Mr Tombolis added that unless traditional retail shopping parades are supported, areas will face a considerable loss of amenities.

Murat Ozsoykal, owner of the Diamond Fish Bar in Martin Hardie Way, said: “I think having new signs showing where we are will make a difference, especially to those residents who may be new to the area.

“Repaving the street will also help, but something also needs to be done about the car parking bays here, as they are too wide at the moment.”

Nicolas Heslop, Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration, said: “The council recognises the key role that local centres play in supporting neighbourhoods and contributing to the economy.

For this reason we have been working with traders across the borough to carry out small scale improvements, such as signage improvements or refurbishment works that will help these centres to be healthy and vibrant places to shop.”

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