MARKET town Bishop’s Waltham has been recognised as having one of the best high streets in the country.
The town, which has a population of around 6,500, was crowned runner-up in the first ever Great British High Street Awards.
The national competition was launched by the Future High Street Forum to celebrate the achievements of local people in making their high streets great places to live, work and shop.
There were more than 135 entries from across the UK – more than a third of local town teams – and the winners were announced on Saturday.
High streets minister Penny Mordaunt said: ‘We were really impressed with how people threw down the gauntlet and have shown what’s possible on the nation’s shopping streets.
‘Communities, traders and businesses were absolutely fizzing with bright ideas and initiatives to make our high streets great places to work, shop and live.
‘It was fantastic to see the teamwork and energy that people are putting in to our high streets.’
Shop-owners, community groups and councils have worked hard over the past two-and-a-half years to bring renewed life, interest and a sense of belonging to a historic high street that dates back to at least 1332.
The judges praised the impressive combination of innovative events and activities, community collaboration and a strong identity.
Bishop’s Waltham was beaten to the top spot by Belper, Derbyshire, which was first in the Market Towns category and was overall winner across all categories.
Tony Kippenberger, chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team, said he was proud of the accolade.
He said: ‘We are really excited that Bishop’s Waltham was recognised.
‘It’s good that those involved are seen as front runners in innovation and local collaboration.
‘Everyone has pulled together to make it such a success and we now look forward to building on this in the future.’
George Hollingbery, MP for the Meon Valley, said: ‘Although Bishop’s Waltham did not win, it can feel justly proud of getting to the final stages of the competition and I congratulate everyone involved in a great campaign.
‘Bishop’s Waltham remains a great place to visit and shop and I’m sure it will continue to go from strength-to -strength.’