Wivenhoe Project 2000 and the Wivenhoe Trade Campaign
To promote Wivenhoe, support local businesses and keep Wivenhoe special
I started Wivenhoe Project 2000 in 1995 with the support and help of colleagues on Wivenhoe Town Council [WTC] and others in Wivenhoe as the members of the Wivenhoe Association of Trade & Commerce. Its key purpose was to boost trade for Wivenhoe-based shops and businesses who were feeling under threat at that time. The Town Council agreed we wanted to see a healthy local economy and to keep Wivenhoe special. This was never going to be a simple task but one which would take a lot of time and effort. Hence the reason for calling it Project 2000 as we hoped to make a tangible difference before the year 2000.
Project 2000 was a standing agenda item on monthly Council meetings as well as involving ad hoc project committee meetings with some councillors and others. Amongst the 50 actions which had been undertaken in pursuit of this key objective up to Spring 1999, were:
- The first event which I organised as Town Mayor at that time in pursuit of the Project 2000 objective was the Trade Fair. This was held in the William Loveless Hall on Sunday 12th May, 1996. On that day, the Hall was packed by hundreds of residents who came to see this first ever trade fair to see what it was about and to meet the 45 traders who had booked stalls.
- At the same time we had initiated a Trade Survey involving volunteers delivering a questionnaire to some 3,000 households and the analysis of the 546 ones which were returned. This provided some useful information about what sort of shops and amenities were wanted as well as feedback about the appearance of Wivenhoe. This later led to the Landscaping project and the planted tubs and several new flower beds which are still around today.
- The Trade Fair was followed by the Wivenhoe Trade Campaign, organised in conjunction with the Wivenhoe Association of Trade & Commerce which existed at that time. The Campaign was launched at a party in the William Loveless Hall in September 1996 to which lots of people accepted invitations including our MP, Bernard Jenkin, Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Westley Sandford who were both asked to speak at the event. The results of the Trade Survey were published at the event which was attended by around 100 people. A lot of useful publicity came from both the event and from publishing the results of the Survey. (Note: A copy of this Survey is available as a pdf to download at the end of this page)
- To promote Wivenhoe we produced a tri-fold leaflet entitled Wivenhoe – A Delightful Secret. This proved exceedingly popular with the initial print run of 8,000 leaflets soon being exhausted with an additional 10,000 leaflets being ordered. (Note: See images of this trifold leaflet)
- A Visitors Information Centre was established in 1997 in an empty shop on the corner of Station Road and the High Street. Under Cllr Mary Hignell’s leadership, and with the support of a team of volunteers, the ‘VIC’ ran during the summer months at the weekends, attracting 4,000 people in the summer of 1998 alone with people wanting information or to buy tickets for various events.
- As part of the Trade Campaign I proposed and created the Wivenhoefirst logo which we encouraged everyone to adopt. We wanted people to check out local shops and businesses, both on price and quality of service, before assuming it is not available in Wivenhoe. I think we were all slightly surprised to discover that Wivenhoe had a total of 130 shops and businesses.
- All these businesses were listed in the Wivenhoe Orange Pages, which we had printed and delivered free to every household in Wivenhoe. This publication was designed to fit in the UK telephone directory popular at that time known as the Yellow Pages. (Note: A copy of this Survey is available as a pdf to download at the end of this page)
- With the help of a grant from Essex County Council, in 1997 we ordered 50,000 carrier bags to promote this idea of Wivenhoefirst. The bags were dark green with gold printing, similar in style to that of a superior West End store to try and to make Wivenhoe a bit more special. We gave these bags to local traders free to give to their customers. It was amazing how quickly these soon went.
By April 1999, we had initiated some 50 actions all designed to improve and promote Wivenhoe in many different ways. See the report below as a pdf available to download which lists all of these actions.
The people who were actively engaged in Project 2000 over the 5 years that it ran were: Chairman Cllr Peter Hill and Cllrs Len Horner, Mary Hignell, Gilli Primrose, Richard Davies, Geoff Langsdon; Town Clerk Antoinette Stinson, Assistant Town Clerk Suzannah Bradley; Borough Cllrs Eugene Kraft and Cyril Liddy; WTC Outdoor staff – Melvin Skeet & Jim Young; WATC – Penny Lear/Kraft, Carol Green, Brian Smith, Richard Edwardson; and others including Roy Murchie, Peter & Diane Duffield, Brian Green, Brian O’Dell, Celia Hirst and Bryan Thomas.