CHIPPENHAM MP - and the new Secretary of State for Education - Michelle Donelan is calling for ideas and suggestions on how to make the town more attractive to residents and visitors.

She wants to hear from residents on how the town can make much more use of the River Avon flowing through the centre of Chippenham.

The ultimate aim to give the town’s local economy a huge boost by increasing the number of visitors and business prosperity.

Chairing the Chippenham Town Centre Board on Friday (July 1), she said she hoped the town would bid for more government funding and take advantage of other opportunities to attract private investment and other funding.

She said: “I wanted to bring all the key stakeholders round the table to actually commit to investing in our town and working together to make it happen!

“Heard all this before? Too right - we have all heard such wonderful ideas over the years and they have stayed just that - ideas. That’s why I am determined to make it happen, and ensure we work as a team to deliver.

“Next step is to get a questionnaire out to Chippenham residents to ask what you think of the ideas on the table and what you want to see change and invested in.

“You have to decide Chippenham’s future not the people on my board but we need them to make it actually happen."

Ms Donelan says the town will then be in a better position to succeed when bidding in for government funding and other funding opportunities plus getting private investment.

She added: “My personal favourite idea, which I really want to see happen if local people want it to, is utilising the river more because it’s an amazing feature of our town. Not many towns have a river and park right off the High Street.

“At the moment Emery Gate has its back to the river but we could make this area a real feature.

“For example, it would be a great place for restaurants to look out onto the river and draw in people into our town helping the local High Street and in turn ensuring we end up with no empty shops.”

The Chippenham Town Centre Board includes representatives from Wiltshire Council; Chippenham Town Council; the owners of Borough Parade Shopping Centre; the owners of Emery Gate Shopping Centre; Chippenham Borough Lands Charity the Chippenham Town Team; Sandie Webb, the owner of Wilkinson’s building, and Chippenham Chamber of Commerce.