Paul Taylor is on a mission to transform the tired streets of Heanor into the thriving hub the town once was.
Chairman of Heanor Traders Association and owner of The Olive Tree, Paul, wants to make the town somewhere people want to work, live and socialise in safe surroundings and a strong economy.
The married dad-of-two is also heavily focused on boosting trade and really getting behind small and local businesses.
After a four-year stint away from Heanor, Paul, 55, and his wife returned to the town in August 2014 – when he joined Heanor Traders Association (HTA).
He said: “Despite being away for a while, our shop – which opened in 2008 – was ticking over nicely. Local trade has always been important to me, so I signed up to HTA. I threw myself into it, having some understanding of running the business was helpful too. And in July of last year, I was proud to be elected chairman.”
HTA is a community interest company established in July 2012. It is a united forum for business and community groups working within Heanor, for Heanor, with regeneration as its focus.
The association provides a framework for local businesses and community groups working together to develop a sustainable local economy for the common good of the wider community.
It is also the current licence holder for the town market and supports the monthly community fair.
Paul said the group had worked hard to step closer to sprucing up the town.
He said: “Among the notable achievements since it was formed are taking on the licence for running Heanor market, and opening a community shop to help budding entrepreneurs try out their retail business ideas in a low cost environment.
“In the last year, HTA has run a very successful survey of business sentiment – 63 per cent response rate – which identified the key issues affecting businesses in the town, car parking charges was the top issue. It highlighted that the town had an above average number of empty shops and that the retail businesses in the town employ considerable numbers of people. There were also serious concerns about how footfall and trade are declining.
“To help address some of these issues, HTA has developed a trial car parking scheme that has been sent to Amber Valley Borough Council.
“We also ran a successful event for young entrepreneurs, and are continuing to work on the development of the weekly market – which has attracted a number of new stall holders recently.
“That said, HTA can’t revitalise the town on it’s own and we need people, both local residents and those from further afield to visit Heanor to see what it has to offer. The only way to retain a vibrant town centre is for people to come and use it thereby increasing footfall and making it more attractive to other retailers who are looking for new premises.”
Passionate Paul has high hopes for the coming year but wants everyone – especially youngsters – to get involved.
He added: “HTA is running some activities with young people to seek their views on the town and to establish what might be done to make it more attractive to young people who are, after all, both current and future customers.
Work has also commenced on the refurbishment of the Market Place.
“HTA is a strong group of people who want to see Heanor improve and with the enthusiasm and support of government, I believe we can see Heanor regain some of its past success.”