Sowing the seeds of a new era of working together

A new era of co-operation between The Alnwick Garden and the town’s traders has been heralded.

Friday, 17th May 2019, 2:00 pm
Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade. Picture by Jane Coltman

Conducting her first meeting as the new chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, Lisa Aynsley told members that she was really encouraged by talks she’d had with Garden director Mark Brassell.

The relationship between the town-centre business community and the popular tourist attraction has not always been rosy, with traders believing more could be done to encourage visitors to visit the town.

“We all experienced the fact that the Garden had a bumper Easter weekend and not a lot of that trade walked through into the town,” Lisa told the May meeting at the White Swan Hotel. “But Mark is really open to try to help, really open to have a conversation.”

She also said it had to be a two-way relationship and Mark would also challenge the traders about working with the Garden.

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Lisa said: “The cafés in the town have had a bit of a lift, so people have started to walk into the town, but the feedback is that there are visitors who have been to the Garden two or three times and had absolutely no idea that this was round the corner.

“So that is something we are going to work on together and he’s really on board with that.”

She welcomed all thoughts and suggestions about how visitors can be made encouraged to visit the high street.

“What we need to do as a Chamber of Trade is go to The Garden and tell him what we would like to do and he can either say that’s possible or no it’s not. We can’t expect him to work out how to get his visitors into the town, it’s up to us to come up with those concepts,” said Lisa.

Alnwick Town councillor and Chamber member Peter Broom said: “You mustn’t forget that if the Castle and the Garden weren’t here we would be just like any other town, like Ashington or Blyth.”

He suggested using town ambassadors being re-established by the Loving Alnwick movement to give out leaflets to Garden visitors at the Denwick Lane pedestrian crossing.

Poor signage was also mentioned, but Grant Welsh, manger of Specsavers, said: “At the risk of being too modern, I think that signs are great but how about an Alnwick app and could that also explain what is on offer in the town. We could put our offers on the app.”