Traders pull out all the stops for business

THE message is getting through that Morpeth is Open For Business — but the hard work will continue to promote the town.

Local businesses have been doing all they can to attract customers to the area since a dramatic fall in trade when the town centre roadworks began last month.

And last week the Morpeth Herald launched a campaign, including a £20 shopping giveaway for one lucky prize-winner, to show that it is business as usual.

Meanwhile, the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT), Dransfield Properties and Northumbrian Water were also taking action, starting a promotional campaign at Morpeth Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

The initiatives seemed to pay off as the town saw one of its busiest shopping days of the year on Saturday as customers braved the freezing conditions and threat of snow to snap up a bargain.

Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon said: “We wanted to get the message out, not just to Morpeth residents, but to people further afield, that it is business as usual despite what they might have read or heard, and I’m pleased to say that we seem to have managed to do that.

“From what people told us there was a good reaction to the traders acting positively to promote the town with the support of GMDT, Dransfield Properties and Northumbrian Water.”

The chamber organised a prize draw at the market and local shopper Ena Keir won two branded More In Morpeth bags, full of produce donated by stallholders.

Two other customers, Chris Reed of Tritlington and Lisa Glancey of Ryton, each won passes for family days out at Kielder, including lunch, a ferry trip, entry to the bird of prey centre and a swim in the indoor pool.

The bulk of entries to the competition were from Morpeth people, but there were some from Pegswood, Widdrington, Ellington, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth and Teesside.

People were also tempted to the town by the Community Cinema screening of Young Victoria on Friday evening, which was the first sponsored showing with the support of La Bodega Tapas Bar.

The film was well attended and organisers GMDT hope that its success will continue and encourage the evening trade for town businesses.

The Open for Business campaign continues this week with the Herald again offering a prize of a £20 Morpeth spending spree for one reader.

And this time their winnings will be doubled as Dransfield Properties have matched our offer to provide the winner with another £20 of shopping at Sanderson Arcade.

The Morpeth developer has also sent out 17,000 newsletters to its subscribers with the message ‘We Are Open For Business’, and the chamber has sent out 5,000 leaflets of its own.

Our campaign partners are also keeping up the momentum with an event in Morpeth Market Place on Saturday afternoon.

Singer Sarah Miller will perform an open-air afternoon concert as the first of two such events. The next one will take place on Saturday, February 25, featuring singer Jason King. Both will run from 1pm to 3pm and are free for passers-by and shoppers to enjoy.

An appeal by the chamber for volunteers to help with the set-up for the event was met with a good response, which Mr Beynon says demonstrates how the whole town is getting behind the campaign.

“Quite often we find that we don’t get many people turning up to help with these things, but this time we had a good response straight away, which is great,” he said.

“We have had nothing, but praise for what we are trying to do, from the public and traders alike. People have been in touch just to say it is great that we are working together and a lot of the traders have said how they appreciate what we are trying to do.

“It has been really good to see the positive spirit in the town. Everybody is trying to work together.”