RESIDENTS and visitors to Trowbridge have given a mixed reception to new picnic parks designed to encourage more shoppers to linger longer in the town centre.

Five of the small picnic areas, complete with wooden benches, fake flowers and artificial grass, have been located around Trowbridge town centre and will stay until September.

They are designed to encourage shoppers and visitors to stay longer and give them an area where they can rest and have something to eat and drink.

They are designed to encourage shoppers and visitors to stay longer and give them an area where they can rest and have something to eat and drink.

Town councillor Antonio Piazza, said: “This is a great idea by Discover Trowbridge and City Dressing.

“It looks very simple but five of these little parks dotted around the town centre will make a real positive impact on our shops.”

Diane Stallard said: “Well done, as the county town we need to look good. Next thing to do is the rubbish around the town. Come on everyone, keep our streets looking tidy.”

But Megan Witty, an events organiser, who has worked with Innox Mills and Trowbridge Chamber of Commerce, said: “Lovely idea but poorly executed.

“Pub benches no good for anyone in a wheelchair or a skirt, cheap fake flowers dangling from naff wooden arch in Fore Street and plastic grass in a plastic-free town.

“Very little thought seems to have gone into this. Shame the grant couldn’t have been spent on more real planters and accessible benches. Just saying!”

As part of a new Government initiative to encourage shoppers and revive the high streets, town centres across Wiltshire are being ‘brightened up’ for the summer.

The initiative is being funded by Wiltshire Council using money from the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely fund.

Local company, City Dressings, which employs 20 people in Chippenham, is installing the street “interventions” in 15 towns across Wiltshire.

Its managing director Jeremy Rucker said they have approached 15 major towns across the county with a view of helping them to attract more visitors.

“They are designed to make High Streets more viable and vital,” he said.

“Because of the Covid pandemic, people have become aware that High Streets have taken a massive hit.

“These temporary interventions of outdoor seating will encourage people to dwell for longer while they are shopping in the town centres.”

“Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The City Dressing project is part of the Wiltshire Towns Programme, which will see £1 million invested each year until 2025, into a range of different projects to attract customers and investment to Wiltshire's high streets, to help support town centres as they continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic and rise to the challenge of online shopping.

“This project forms part of our early-stage work to create appealing high streets through short-term provision of facilities, green spaces and street dressing to encourage residents to return to the high street.

“Over the summer and autumn we’ll be working with towns to develop projects that will kickstart the programme, including a Generating Activity Grant, which is a fund to work with town councils to drive footfall back to high streets with events and activities; a What's on in Wiltshire app, which will enable people to find out about events on their smartphones; and grants to encourage new businesses to open on the high street, or existing businesses to become fit for the future.”

You can read more about the Wiltshire Towns Programme, in the Cabinet report here.