Think-tank praises ‘thriving and diverse’ town

IT has built up a reputation as a town of “great little shops” over the years and now a survey carried out by a leading thinktank has proved Hebden Bridge deserves its moniker.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) visited a total of 87 towns and cities throughout the country, looking at the number of independent shops and the various types of stores found on the high street.

Hebden Bridge ranked sixth on the diversity scale and was praised for its independent shops and unique shopping experience.

Duncan McKie, chairman of Hebden Bridge Business Association, welcomed the news, saying it was a compliment to the shops in the town.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “It’s a fantastic achievement for this town.

“People come from quite a wide area to shop here because they get a genuine shopping experience where the owners have a genuine knowledge of what they are selling and the produce they have on offer.

“It’s incredibly well supported by local people, which I’m sure is hugely appreciated by all the shop-keepers.

“It’s a great honour and long may people continue to support and shop in the town as without customers we have not got any shops.”

Amy Leader, who owns Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge and is also the local organiser for the Totally Locally campaign, said: “I’m really proud to have a business in Hebden Bridge and I survive partly because Hebden Bridge has so many independent shops which make it a totally unique place to shop.

“Totally Locally can work so well in Hebden Bridge because we are so unique. Hebden Bridge can benefit from the campaign as we have something great to promote.”

Mayor of Hebden Royd, Coun Robin Dixon, was pleased that the report had recognised the number of independent and creative shops in the town.

“It’s good to keep up our reputation as a small town for little shops,” he said.

Beth Ward, manager of the Totally Locally campaign, said: “Hebden Bridge is a wonderful town for shopping in and the fact that it has so many independent shops makes it unique.

“There are so many hidden gems which all have shop-keepers who are so passionate about their products and whom offer excellent customer service.

“It is definitely one of the UK’s best places to come for the total shopping experience.”