Residents urged to support Newport businesses – and what makes the town so special

Newport’s independent traders have been backed to bounce back after being hit by a raft of challenges.

Newport Town Centre
Newport Town Centre

But local councillors say town centre businesses need the support of local residents in their hour of need.

High Street shops across the town have shown their resilience in the wake of adversity and those in St Mary’s Street have been hit extra hard due to the closure of the road because of safety fears at the impacted by the fact it has been closed to traffic due to the poor state of repair of the Royal Victoria Hotel.

This has seen footfall reduced at some shops by up to 70 per cent.

Businesses have called for support with a spokesperson for Renee & Rupert, saying: "It has not been good. We are a charity boutique and we need donations.


"They have really stopped coming in since the road has been such a mess. People don't think they can drop them off but they can still come down here.

Bernard Beech, who runs Gilby’s Antiques, Vintage, Retro and Collectibles in St Mary’s Street, said the road closure has lost him nearly three quarters of his trade.

“My footfall in the last three weeks has been 70 per cent down than normal,” he said. “There are 40 car parking spaces outside with a 40-minute limit, so that is 300 cars every day that are no longer stopping in the street.

And Thomas Peach, owner of Sluice Juice in St Mary’s Street, recorded a video on Facebook last month where he said the road closure had cost him 50 per cent of his monthly takings.

But Councillor Peter Scott says local businesses can still thrive with local support.

He said: “Telford & Wrekin is lucky to have five market towns and, in my opinion, Newport is the jewel in the crown.

“When people come to visit us and shop, they come back again and again. they are surprised at what a beautiful town centre we have got.

“No one wants to go through what some of the businesses have gone through in recent times, due to things that are not their fault, but they are resilient enough to come back. I think, post the closure here, when everyone is back up and running, you will see how vibrant our High Street actually is.

“Our traders won’t throw in the towel. They have the backbone to keep going and we will support them every step of the way.”

Newport Food Frenzy. In Picture: Immi Cakes and Bakes based in Telford: Maddie Kelly, Immi Kelly, Jack Jalbind and Sophie Ross.

The ideal shopping experience

“Why go anywhere else?” is the message from Newport Chamber of Commerce to those looking for the ideal shopping experience.

A town rich in history and stores which will leave you ‘spoilt for choice’, the chamber’s chairperson Karen Woodcock says the Shropshire town is one to be proud of and can really thrive, moving forward.

“It’s a wonderful town,” she said. “The High Street in Newport provides a space where visitors, residents and businesses are able to mix freely.

“As one of the widest high streets in the UK, the pavements provide easy access for all and, with the High Street, the cobbles of St Mary’s Street or a visit to our marvellous Indoor Market, it really does leave people spoilt for choice!

“We have an amazing range of more than 45 independent shops.

“Newport offers a wide choice for shoppers from music shops, art galleries, home decor, soft furnishings, fashion, jewellery, bicycles, antiques and collectibles, fabulous food and gifts which make perfect presents for friends and family. And, of course, we have shops stocking well-known brands such as Sophie Allport, Cath Kidston, Fairfax & Favor, Salthouse and Dubarry of Ireland and many more.

“Our picturesque market town is also home to major stores including Waitrose, Boots, Peacocks, B&M to mention a few. Why would you go anywhere else?”

Many say town centres need to be much more than just about shops now, but more of a whole experience.

And Karen added: “Our beautiful canal will provide a leisurely walk and you will be rewarded with an array of wildlife.

“St Nicholas Church, located in the centre of town, is an interesting visit with beautiful stained glass windows and fascinating architecture.

“We have free parking and businesses that are dementia-friendly and dog-friendly. Newport welcomes you whoever you are!

“This market town is steeped in history with beautiful architecture and so many fantastic events each year.”

She added: “It really is a great place to be.”

Paul Syrda and Andrew Griffin from Newport Events Company CIC with traders from Moyden's Cheese, Diamond Deli and Newport Country Market ahead of the Food Frenzy

More than a shopping experience

Visiting Newport has become about the experience – not just its shopping pull but its events too.

Paul Syrda – Director of Newport Events Company CIC, which organises a series of annual events in the town, is among those to be playing a key role in attracting more visitors to the town centre.

As Chairman of Newport Carnival Committee, along with a great team, record numbers have been arriving for events since the pandemic – 10,000 people attended last summer’s carnival. He said: “Newport is a brilliant market town with a fantastic range of independent businesses and a fabulous market hall.

“We have a thriving ‘event’ scene, whether it’s the street events our team of volunteers arrange throughout the year from Newport Carnival to Food Frenzy and the Christmas Market, to events organised by our local pubs and community centres.

“The events draw people in from outside town who then get to enjoy our shops, eateries and other businesses.

“Last year’s carnival saw crowds of more than 10,000 people in our high street.

“All the town’s events help to show off how amazing Newport is to visit, live and work in.

“It’s a beautiful town, with a picturesque canal, stunning historic buildings and incredibly welcoming and friendly people.

“When you add in a vibrant, varied and accessible high street scene with a fantastic range of independent shops, cafes and bars, Newport has pretty much anything you need right here in town.”

This year’s carnival returns with a theme of ‘Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Superheroes’ on Saturday, June 10.

Mr Syrda said: “We’re hoping to bring even more people into town for this year’s event.

“It’s the biggest, free annual event in Newport and we’re working hard to make 2023 the biggest and best carnival yet.

“Ever since bringing the whole carnival into the centre of town, we’ve seen it bring such a huge boost to high street businesses, who are now part of the whole day too.”

'A services powerhouse with everything you can’t buy online!'

Newport councillor Tim Nelson is among those championing the town centre as a place to visit. And he says its services are a key aspect of what makes it an important go-to place.

“Hairdressers, barbers, beauty, tanning, financial services, medical, property and legal services – the range and quality is breathtaking, and all focussed on helping you.

“There are wonderful individual food stores, charming indoor market and a traditional butchers. Newport is a thing of beauty. A joy to be in and a joy to buy in.

“It’s a quaint medieval town with architecture from down the ages, when you can buy the latest hairstyle, and the most fashionable independent gifts. It has an old-fashioned feel, but not in the sense of out-of-date, instead more that there is tangible friendliness and community.

“People still know each other and smile, they welcome newcomers on the High Street and in the shops. Visitors always remark that everyone is so friendly.”

Frankie O'Connor and Jude Paton

It feels like home

“It’s the only place outside Ireland I’ve ever felt at home,” is the message about Newport from shop owner Frankie O’Connor.

Frankie is the owner of Newport Music Store, having taken over the Hey Jude’s business from long-standing owner Jude Paton last year.

And trading in Newport is a real family affair as his wife Tracey owns Objects, a homewear and gift shop in town.

They moved to Newport two years ago, having been visiting for 14 years while Frankie was in the military based at Market Drayton.

“What’s not to love about Newport?” said Frankie. “It’s the community, everybody knows each other and everyone makes you feel welcome.

“Everyone says hello and they get to know you in five minutes.

“It’s a fairly big town but it feels like a village in that way. We’ve lived lots of places and never really felt like we knew anyone, but in Newport we were made to feel welcome right from the start.

“We’ve only lived here for two years but it feels like we’ve lived here always. It’s the only place outside Ireland I’ve ever felt at home.

“Even my brother-in-law, who only visited for a day, said it was the only place he could see himself living in England.

“When I took on the shop, we automatically became part of the community overnight.

“Everybody comes in and wants to support you right from the beginning. It’s been great and we’ve had so much support.”

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