We give very careful consideration to the areas of priority for ONE Haverhill Partnership.
Our task groups are designed to give a clear indication of where we should focus – while being agile enough to change and adapt when necessary.
Some of the themes are obvious and have been consistent since the organisation was formed seven years ago.
Health and education affect us all and it is only right that we prioritise supporting young people with education and employment opportunities, for example.
Other task groups have also emerged.
Volunteering has become a key theme, while last year we formed the ONE Haverhill Partnership Business Angels in an attempt to build better bridges between businesses in the town, while also giving them the opportunity to be engaged and work closely on town projects that can impact their businesses.
Our newest task group focuses on our town centre and in particular four key areas – marketing, procurement, the market and events in Haverhill.
First and foremost, we didn’t decide on forming a town centre business engagement group because we felt there were major problems in the heart of Haverhill.
We just wanted to provide a supporting role and act as a conduit between businesses – both retail and professional – and the decision-makers.
There is so much good work going on in Haverhill, and so much goodwill to bring about further improvements.
By working together, this can only enhance the town centre at a time when all towns are faced with some huge challenges.
Town centres need to adapt, whether by increasing living accommodation above shops, improving vital footfall or creating a stronger retail or business group presence to contribute to decisions about the town centre.
And we know what is right for one town may not be right for Haverhill and vice-versa.
The task group, made up of businesses leaders and supported by West Suffolk Council officials, meets monthly and there have been some quick wins.
We believe the work being carried out by Sharon Fairweather, Market Development Officer at West Suffolk Council, has seen improvements to our town centre market.
We are a proud market town, and more can be done, but it is heading in the right direction.
Communication around events has also been stepped up.
Everyone wants Haverhill to be successful and drawing people in through big events is a great way to increase footfall and hopefully support local businesses.
A Facebook group – under the working title ‘Business in Haverhill’ – is now live and active and provides a great platform to promote events but also opportunities for businesses in and around the town centre.
For instance, raising awareness of their own businesses and events and also opportunities for sponsorship.
We would ask businesses in our town, and anyone with a strong interest in our town centre economy, to like the Facebook group and get involved.
Not everything is going to change overnight. But our whole premise is around working in partnership – and bringing about real change within all our task groups.
By John Mayhew, Chairman of ONE Haverhill Partnership