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Mean on Monday: Publicity attracts London property tycoon to Stroud

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Writing this column, I am looking at the Sunday Times Best Place to Live in Britain feature.

Last year’s winner was Stroud and what a difference that accolade has made to the town.

Due to the publicity, London property developer Simon Berg came to Stroud and ended up buying the derelict Imperial Hotel next to the station.

And another developer, Tom Pitman decided to take a look at Stroud and bought the office block by the Imperial.

After talking to Stroud’s MP, Siobhan Baillie and professional property people like Five Valleys shopping centre developer Mark Dransfield, I decided to look at how Stroud’s town centre could be levelled up.

Pride in Place is one of the most important of the twelve missions made in the government’s Levelling Up White Paper.

This promise by Michael Gove is, in my view, fundamental to allowing businesses to recruit good people to live in glorious Gloucestershire.

The recent White Paper talks about restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging, especially in those areas where they have been lost.

The actual mission says: ”By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between the top-performing and other areas closing”.

It was all about the Pride of Place, as outlined by Michael Gove, and the district council responded well to what I thought was constructive criticism.

For too long, some of these projects–like the improvement to the station gateway to the town-have been delayed.

And now, the district council’s Levelling Up bid for government money is nearly ready for submission to Whitehall.

What’s the lesson here for our district councils in Gloucestershire?

Ask yourselves: Are we honestly proud of our communities?

What can we do to make our communities a magnet so that our young people can be attracted to stay, work here and bring up their own families?

Pride in Place is a simple message-like most of the Levelling Up missions. It just needs to be actioned.

*Ian Mean is vice-chair of GFirstLEP

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