AN important new report about the future of South West towns was officially launched last week as keen stakeholders from across the region debated the best way forward for local town centres and their high streets.

The report entitled “Freedom, Funding and Fearlessness” has been produced by the South West region of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and to start the discussion about how to improve footfall and activity within towns, a special online stakeholder forum was held which provoked lively debate and ideas.

The FSB’s report had suggested that identity, digital promotion, keeping things local, collaboration and regeneration were the key themes that can drive success for towns in the region and all these areas were focussed upon by representatives from South West councils, Business Improvement Districts, market forums, LEPs and local business leaders.

Although common problems and issues were raised, examples of good practice which are helping to revitalise town centres were also shared with work done from all across the region – from St Ives in Cornwall right up to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and all points in between – highlighted.

FSB’s South West regional chair, Lee Nathan, said that the event had been a great success and had shown a strong and united commitment to ensure towns, town centres and the high street remain firmly on the local agenda.

“FSB is very proud of this report because we understand the vital importance of our towns across the region who need a strong presence to help both business and the community as a whole.

“We were so impressed with the turnout for our launch event and the amazing amount of energy and ideas that came from all of the attendees. They showed they are as committed as we are to making sure that our town centres have a bright future and they remain at the heart of local life.”