Leigh loves Redditch!
Leigh Walton has been recently appointed as the new Chair for Redditch Town Deal replacing local businessman Adam Freeth.
“I’m Redditch born and bred. When I found out what the Town Deal could do to re-energise Redditch I just ‘had’ to get involved!
I think local people forget to look around them and see what benefits we have here in Redditch. I moved away at 17, came back to Redditch in my 20’ and have since spent several years travelling around Europe so I have experience of how other countries and towns ‘work’.
I’ve also worked for several large businesses where the prime goal was to move the business forward. I understand budgeting and the fact that sometimes the goals and or budgets need to change to meet new circumstances.
The job of the Town Deal Board is to ‘move Redditch forward’ to create a smart and vibrant town.
The fact that the high street is changing is a big challenge. Many people now shop online, so a town has to offer more than just retail. I am a member of Redditch BID (Business Improvement District) which links in well to my Town Deal Board role as the BID group is working towards organising more community events and promoting the town as a great place to run a business.
Like most town centres, we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation. We need to bring our residents and visitors into town, and we need reasons for them to visit us rather than somewhere else. People are always looking for activities, bars and restaurants offering ‘something different’. Some more independent shops would be great for us too. If people come in, businesses will start to follow. If businesses come in, people will start to follow. We have a good shopping centre compared to many. High streets are changing all over the UK, so we are fortunate that the Kingfisher Centre is immaculately kept and is adapting to changes such as those prompted by Covid.
When travelling, I always love to return to our beautiful Victorian conservation outside area, the surrounding countryside and the fabulous Palace Theatre. Redditch has a fabulous road network. We don’t have traffic jams and you can reach the M40, M42, M5, M6, M1 within a very short time. The thousands of trees we have throughout the district are stunning – particularly in autumn. I always tell people that Arrow Valley park is bigger than Central Park, New York. I haven’t found anywhere better to live in the UK or Europe!
I’m really looking forward to getting cracking on development plans for Redditch. The Town Deal Board has developed a Town Investment Plan (TIP) and a budget so we are keen to bring our vision to life which will happen between now and 2026. In 2021 we secured government funding of £15.6 million through the Towns Deal. This will enable us to develop plans for a new digital manufacturing and innovation centre, redevelopment of Redditch Library and improvements to the appearance of the town centre. The Town Deal board is made up of people with different skills, yet with one goal in mind; to improve our town so that is a town people and businesses want to be a part of and to be proud of.
Follow the progress of the Redditch Town Deal Fund on the council’s Twitter and Facebook pages.