Improvements to rural transport, more space for businesses to expand into and maintaining a sense of community have emerged as early themes in a review aiming to strengthen Reepham’s economy.

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Residents were asked to give their views about what is good and bad about the town at a consultation on Saturday that consultants will use to draw up a list of recommendations designed to boost business.

The project is funded by Broadland Council’s recession mitigation fund, and follows similar reviews in Aylsham and Acle.

Dozens of people raised issues including more car parking, a relief road, creating easier routes for school traffic and making the town more cycle friendly to encourage people to stop and spend money.

Janis Jones, who has lived in the town for 32 years, said: “I think we need a lot more in terms of businesses. You come to Reepham to do shopping but you would not come here for half a day. The more people come here, the more they will use the pubs or shops.”

Alison Hovesen, who lives in nearby Salle and plans to retire in Reepham, said she wanted to see better public transport, more cheap housing, and more facilities so young and older people do not have to commute to Norwich to set up businesses.

Kate Pinnock, a director of Ingham Pinnock Associates which is carrying out the review, has held early discussions with businesses and said ideas could include website training for businesses.

She said: “Is there something there that’s really not helping, whether it’s something as simple as signs pointing to car parks covered in bushes that need trimming back through to whether shops and businesses have enough space to expand into?”

She said some of the ideas would include bids for public funding, but projects would have to be ready for quick implementation because of short timescales for grant applications.

Town council chairman Les Paterson said: “We are hoping this project will throw up options we have not thought of before so we can develop the town in a business sense and bring in more traders. It always pays to bring in a new perspective and that’s what we need.”

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