Room to grow for Wellington's retail sector
During my regular Meet the Mayor visits to Wellington, a constant theme that comes up from people who come to see me is the long-term viability of the town, especially its retail sector.
It is clear to me that residents care deeply about their town and want it to succeed. I also want to see Wellington’s reputation as a great place to live or visit continue to grow.
Wellington’s main street, with its view across Cameron Park, is one of the most picturesque main streets of any regional town. The green space across the road on the banks of the Bell River is fantastic.
However the sight of so many empty shops is quite off-putting and that is what has residents concerned.
We already have fantastic retailers in Wellington. We just need to get more of them, and they also need some assistance.
There is no doubt the closure of Target in early 2015 left the town short in some areas such as clothing and footwear. Unfortunately that meant more people felt the need to do their shopping in Dubbo, and quite often they do all of their shopping while they are there.
I believe one of the biggest changes over the decades is that while people used to go to Dubbo from Wellington once a month for their shopping, it is now more like once a week.
All of that money flowing out of town makes it very difficult for the retailers who have stayed in business and are trying to grow the local economy.
Council has a couple of ways it can get involved. Since the amalgamation of Wellington and Dubbo, Council has extended the Ignite program to the town.
Last December Council ran Jingle on the Bell, a campaign to encourage people to shop local with a giveaway for shoppers in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We also encouraged retailers to get in the spirit with a shop front window display competition.
We had great engagement with that campaign and I know our Economic Development team are constantly looking at ways to make a difference.
We also need to work closely with the Wellington Business Chamber. We have the same goal, to grow Wellington and improve the local economy. If we are on the same page then we can use the combined knowledge and resources much better.
Council is also working towards the creation of a Wellington Masterplan, which includes the shopfronts and streetscape of the CBD, as well as the town entrances and main routes. This would identify areas that can be improved.
It is important to me that Wellington is a place that businesses are able to grow and thrive. We have such a great community and if we all work together we can make it even better.
Don’t forget, I will be at Cookies Café on Wednesday, 17 July between 10am and 12pm so come along and see me if you have an issue you want to discuss. I will also be at Stuart Town’s Ironbark Inn on Tuesday, 23 July between 4pm and 7pm.
Last Edited: 26 Jul 2019