NEW help is on hand for a town’s plans to regenerate its shopping areas.
Sam Hetherington, Gosport’s new town centre and retail support officer, is in place helping shops and businesses in the town’s High Street and beyond.
As previously reported, Gosport’s Town Team, a group elected to help spend a fund of £110,000 to boost the town, agreed to spend £20,000 on the new role, with a salary between £25,000 to £29,000.
It will cost Gosport Borough Council £24,000 in salary and in-kind costs toward the role.
Ms Hetherington has previously worked as commercial manager at House of Fraser and was centre manager at Fareham Shopping Centre, along with running her own business.
She said: ‘I will be out and about, not all day every day, but certainly at least once a week.
‘I want that to be a normal thing for people to expect to see me.
‘I want to be available to all of them – I’m there for everybody – I’m a way of feeding in to the Town Team.’
‘Everybody has been extremely welcoming, enthusiastic and supportive.
‘I’m trying to take the burden off the team to focus and move things on.’
She added she will take proposals and suggestions to improve the area to the Town Team and help businesses communicate with the volunteers.
Graham Jacobs is chairman of the Town Team.
He said with Ms Hetherington in place, he hopes plans will speed up, as she will work between their meetings.
The team plans to transform the High Street into a destination to encourage businesses to move into the empty shops, including plans to link up the High Street with festivals.
Mr Jacobs said: ‘If we’ve got a vibrant High Street with things happening and people actually wanting to come down here – and knowing who the Town Team are – then it’s a success. We’ve got an enthusiastic committee but they’ve all got their own businesses and jobs to do.’