Town boss talks up high street

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A PROMINENT Mildenhall businessman has said that talk of the town centre’s demise is wide of the mark.

Robert Lewis, managing partner at Balmforths Estate Agents, has written to Mildenhall Parish Council claiming that the town’s businesses are in much ruder health than most of the rest of the country.

His claims came after a national report on unoccupied business properties was released by the Local Data Company.

Mr Lewis said: “I saw the report in the national news saying Stockport had the highest rate of unoccupied units at 30 per cent, with St Albans the lowest at eight per cent.

“So I took a walk around Mildenhall town centre, and out of the 91 units, 85 were in use. That means Mildenhall only has around six per cent empty.

“The fact that three of the empty units aren’t even on the market makes it look even better. When you compare us to the rest of the country, it’s not too bad at all.”

Mr Lewis put shoppers’ negative take on the state of the town centre down to the downfall of long-standing outlets.

“I think people see an established shop close – like Stebbings Shoes recently – and they think it’s all doom and gloom.

“But in reality, three or four businesses will close and another three or four will take their place. The high street is just changing.”

Mr Lewis’ own experience of business lettings was that the ‘three or four’ Balmforths dealt with a year would be let out ‘very promptly’.

Tony Wheble, Mildenhall Parish Council chairman, echoed Mr Lewis’ view.

“It was a nice letter to get because people are always talking down the town centre but actually we are doing pretty well.

“We are not a dying town and the figures seem to bear that out,” he said.

Forest Heath District Council has recently put plans in motion to create a town centre forum to bring businesses together.