Traders in North Walsham are set to fight back against the sales-sapping internet by harnessing its power and becoming a pioneering “cybertown”.

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A call has gone out to every business in the town - from shops, manufacturers, pubs and hairdressers, to a man with a van - urging them to sign up for a new North Walsham website aimed at tempting customers with special offers.

Supporters hope north Norfolk shoppers who now regularly turn to their computers when planning a purchase or looking for a service, will routinely visit the North Walsham website to check out local deals.

They will be able to select a category - such as food or clothing - and click their way through to any offers available in North Walsham. Details of each business, plus a map showing its location, would be advertised alongside its offers, and there would also be links to its own website and social media accounts.

If tempted, shoppers would be able to print out a voucher with deal details and take it along to the business to collect and pay for it.

The site will cost each business £10 a month to join. Set-up costs have been covered by the North Walsham Town Team, launched as part of the national Mary Portas initiative, using some of a £10,000 Portas grant.

High streets across Britain have been badly hit by the switch to internet sales with customers increasingly browsing in their local shops before going home to hunt for and buy identical items online.

Mair Stockdale, chairman of North Walsham Chamber of Business, which is backing the idea, said they now wanted to turn the tables and use the internet to their advantage.

“It’s very exciting and new. If you don’t do something, you will just sit there watching footfall in the town drop and drop,” said Mrs Stockdale.

”Hopefully it will bring more people into town to collect the things they’ve seen and to do more shopping.”

The chamber is working with software developer Kent Laws and his business Net Effect on the project. Mr Laws, 42, from Northrepps, has tailor-made software for the town based on a programme he designed for small travel firms wishing to join forces on the internet to advertise holiday offers.

He said the North Walsham site would be ready to go live in about two months.

Mr Laws will explain the idea at two events, open to all, at The Atrium, Spenser Avenue, North Walsham, on March 5 and 6 at 6pm.

But Mrs Stockdale said the town’s self-help efforts were being badly hindered by North Norfolk District Council’s refusal to see the vital importance of keeping free car parking in North Walsham to further encourage shoppers.

Rhodri Oliver, NNDC cabinet member with responsibility for car parking, said he would be meeting chamber representatives to discuss their concerns.

But he added that car parking brought in £2m a year. Even a “cost-neutral” parking policy would mean an extra £50 on a Band D council taxpayer’s bill.

9 comments

  • This sounds like a great idea and I hope several towns can sign up to it. I certainly want to find out more.

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    Low Flier

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • What a great idea, although why people always have start with the negatives in these comments always ceases to amaze me ... more Nicola Murray than Malcolm Tucker methinks

    Report this comment

    tcml

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • £10,000 for a website that looks like that? You are kidding? And why a company from London when surely the whole point is to encourage people to shop local?

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Car Parking revenue brings in £2m to NNDC coffers?! Nonsense; I'd like to see these figures. And if it would only cost me an extra 50 quid a year to get free parking in North Walsham then I would gladly pay it twice over. It's the vital shot in the arm that our town centres need if they are ever to compete in the modern world, attract visitors and allow them to discover what each town has to offer without worrying if someone is sticking labels to their windscreens!

    Report this comment

    Walsham Boy

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Hi Omnishambles, Great name - The Thick Of It is one of my favourite TV shows too. A few of small points if I may, 1. The key word in this following quote from the article is 'some' - "using some of a £10,000 Portas grant." The agreement I have with the Town Team and Chamber for Business is actually for a small fraction of this total. 2. Northrepps, as far as I can tell is not in London. 3. The chap who wrote the code for our LateCards platform (acknowledged after just 18 months as being the industry standard for offer distribution within the travel trade) is from Trunch and went to North Walsham High. More than happy to discuss in detail next week at the Atrium.

    Report this comment

    Kent-Laws

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • A big thank you for your comments. Please keep them coming as we need as much support for free parking in North Walsham to support small businesses and to help bring the Town back to life.

    Report this comment

    mairstockdale

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • Hi Omnishambles, Great name - The Thick Of It is one of my favourite TV shows too. A few of small points if I may, 1. The key word in this following quote from the article is 'some' - "using some of a £10,000 Portas grant." The agreement I have with the Town Team and Chamber for Business is actually for a small fraction of this total. 2. Northrepps, as far as I can tell is not in London. 3. The chap who wrote the code for our LateCards platform (acknowledged after just 18 months as being the industry standard for offer distribution within the travel trade) is from Trunch and went to North Walsham High. More than happy to discuss in detail next week at the Atrium.

    Report this comment

    Kent-Laws

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Thanks Kent-Laws!

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • What a great idea, although why people always have start with the negatives in these comments always ceases to amaze me ... more Nicola Murray than Malcolm Tucker methinks

    Report this comment

    tcml

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

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