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Survey finds friendliness makes Downham Market special

Mayor of Downham Market Cllr Jenny Groom, Amanda and Simon Prior, Louis Barker, Nina Narramore, Sarah Cox and Jamie McGuffog.
Cllr Jenny Groom, Amanda & Simon Prior, Louis Barker, Nina Narramore, Sarah Cox & Jamie McGuffog.

Published: Wednesday, 21st July 2021

Published on behalf Opportunities Downham Market.

The friendliness and warm welcome is what makes Downham Market special, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The Opportunities Downham Market consultation, which saw 401 people give their views, also discovered that the town’s status as a market town is considered important.

The survey took place earlier this summer and invited views from the public on Downham Market to help to shape future plans for the town.

In addition, the study found:

  • Food shopping, hospitality, and personal care – such as visits to the hairdresser - are the top reasons why people are coming into the town;
  • The main places people are visiting are the market (20 per cent), supermarkets, and restaurants and cafes;
  • Respondents to the survey said that they would like to see a greater vibrancy and variety in the town, including a better choice of retail outlets, an expanded, improved market, and more of a café culture;
  • People also shared a range of words to describe Downham Market which included positive terms such as friendly, pretty, and quaint as well as more negative words such as boring and dated, suggesting there is scope for improvements.

The survey also asked for views on use of the town hall:

  • Improving career and business prospects were key themes for potential use of the town hall, with 52 per cent stating they would like to see business start-up training offered;
  • There was also a keen interest in wellbeing workshops (51 per cent) and life skills training (43 per cent);
  • Ideas for complementary services for the town hall focused on food and drink with a range of suggestions such as an internet café, bistro, or specialist café.

Cllr Jenny Groom, Mayor of Downham Market said: “Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to share their views in this survey. We had a great response and the feedback is both interesting and insightful.

“It’s really fantastic to learn people think that Downham Market is a friendly, welcoming town – and that is something that I certainly recognise.

“But, we know too that there are things could be made better, and there were some brilliant ideas and suggestions offered to do just that.”

The survey findings come as the new Opportunities Downham Market Partnership is launched.  The partnership, made up of representatives from the town and borough councils as well as local businesses and organisations, has been set up to work collaboratively for the town.

The partnership is an independent forum for coming up with plans, ideas, and improvements for Downham Market. It aims to make a difference for the town and will seek to attract funding and involve residents in making Downham Market an even better place to live, visit, and work.

The Opportunities Downham Market Partnership is not a decision-making group – it will feed into the town council – but it will be a catalyst for improvement by bringing together different people to shape the future of the town.

The partnership met for the first time this week and further meetings are planned; the group will shortly be reviewing the findings of the survey.

Cllr Jenny Groom said: “The Opportunities Downham Market Partnership represents an important step forward for the town. Through working together, the partnership will identify ideas and plans that could help us to bring investment and improvements.

“The partnership gives the town a real opportunity to make a difference. And what’s key, is collaboration – not only amongst the members of the partnership but with local people too.

“This survey is just the start of the conversation with local people. We want to continue hearing what matters to Downham Market residents so that any improvements can reflect local needs and wants.

“This is a really exciting time for Downham Market and we look forward to shaping a bright future for the town, not least as we emerge from Covid-19.”

The Opportunities Downham Market website – www. (not yet live) - is set to launch next week and will have more information, including about the findings. And, people who have indicated that they would like to be kept informed in the survey will shortly be receiving an update email.

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