BUSINESS owners in Fordingbridge are calling for more “new and outside the box” ideas to boost the town.

Concerns were raised about the town in a letter by Tim Devane, who runs Timothy’s, which was read out at a Fordingbridge Town Council meeting on July 5.

He said: “What is clear, we cannot just do nothing and leave our town to die away before our eyes.

“We need some new and different ideas, some bold suggestions, we need to appeal to New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council, we need to think outside the box. We must make this the number one priority for this council. The present and future of Fordingbridge are depending on you.”

He also raised concerns about a carboot event in the town and the impact on businesses if it were to grow into a full market.

Mr Devane told the meeting he had received a good response from retailers, but they were “fearful of the future”. He suggested setting up committees with representatives from the town’s retailers and members of the council.

Mayor, Cllr Malcolm Connolly said the council financed Christmas lights and subsidised flower baskets and did as much as it could but the responsibility for roads, pavements and shops were down to NFDC. He added: “They give us no time, they don’t take any notice of us and we are constantly battling the wind.

“As a town we’re just being ridden roughshod. You’ve got parking all over the place, we’ve not got any police, the roads are full of weeds, the tarmac is bare, the town looks awful and we have got to stand up and do something about it. We are fully behind you.”

Speaking after the meeting Lynda Pinnock, of The Butler Tray, said the town had lost local footfall with the closure of its three banks, which had not been helped by the closure of shops in the town.

She said: “We have no active business forum and the local council say they can’t really do anything for us so we appear to have no voice at all.  “However we do have ideas that could bring in more business for us but unfortunately we struggle to get heard.”

She added: “Our town has the potential to be a beautiful market town on the edge of the New Forest and should be thriving.”

Lynda said she would like to see better signage of tourist spots and car parking in the town and offering the first hour free parking for shoppers as well as better maintenance of grass verges and flower displays.

She says she would also like to see an “active interest” in the businesses of Fordingbridge from both the local and district councils.  

Caroline Roylance, who runs the George Pub and Dave Tree, of All the Cool Stuff, have already started looking at ways to boost the town - promoting Fordingbridge on social media with the I Love Fordingbridge and Visit Fordingbridge Facebook pages.

They are also looking at starting a forum for local businesses. 

Caroline said: “We can be the next Ringwood - we need people to have a bit of vision - that is what we are trying to do.”

Caroline and Dave said: “Fordingbridge is looking to grow, where there has  been a change in culture with banking and the closure of local branches Fordingbridge has got to change with it whilst keeping its character and charm.”

They added: “Fordingbridge is changing and regenerating from within, there has been a huge amount of private investment this year with six new businesses in our town during the last year.

“Local people and businesses are keen to invest in our town. We need the public to continue to support us as we continue to grow.”

A spokesman for NFDC said: "Helping local business grow is one of NFDC’s corporate plan priorities and we are always keen to work with our towns and villages to achieve this together. 

"NFDC are not responsible for, or own, the roads, pavements, or shops."