THERE’S a new buzz about Shirley as town centre manager Becki Wood looks to really put the area on the map.
At the heart of it is a revitalised Shirley Town Centre Partnership which is looking to promote the thoroughfare both locally and on a wider scale.
“It’s been a real eye opener visiting some of the shops here - there are a lot more small independent businesses compared to the multiples of Solihull, the variety is fantastic and Shirley has some real characters too,” said Becki, who as events manager saw the borough win gold in the Heart of England in Bloom competition six times out of seven the national title once and with a nomination to represent the region for this year too.
She’s already organised her first networking event for businesses with Jerroms and Solihull College and is busy laying plans, through the Partnership, for more including some practical hands on workshops.
“The perception is that shops are closing down in Shirley but while these are difficult times, businesses are opening too,” said Becki. “For instance there’s Bel’s Boutique which sells some fabulous babywear and the fantastic shop FTS Clothing.”
And she says that being a member of the Partnership brings tangible benefits, from access to key trading information, involvement in key strategies affecting Shirley, and free access to the Shirley town talk website, which has a makeover in the pipeline.
She believes a flourishing Partnership would result in a flourishing Shirley, bring more people into the area.
There’s also the need to raise money to pay for the Christmas lights of 2010.
“In 2009 the Partnership and people did really well to bring in £6,000 to pay for the lights and obviously we’ll be looking to do the same or get more - but we need a sponsor to come forward and help,” she said.
The recession has hit plans for the New Heart of Shirley but Becki says these are currently being re-drawn with a new planning application due for submission.
For more information on Shirley Town Centre Partnership or to join contact Becki Wood on 0121 704 8752 or e-mail Bwood@solihull.gov.uk.