A new town manager is relishing her new role to improve and enhance the offering in Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
Julie Thorneycroft started her new job in April and has spent the last six months getting to know both towns, including meeting numerous business owners, councillors and community groups.
She has been developing a town management action plan, with the key priorities being that the towns are clean, welcoming and attractive, as well as protecting and promoting their heritage and history.
Julie, who will be spending 75 per cent of her time in Rushden and the remaining 25 per cent in Higham Ferrers, said: “All towns need to have certain priorities and with Rushden we have got the High Street improvement project.
“It’s the first thing we are looking at.
“I just feel the High Street is the focus in Rushden so we have put forward a whole programme of improvements and the town council has to approve it.
“Phase one has been approved so that will start in the new year.”
Phase one includes a deep clean of the High Street and once that has been completed, Julie will be looking at other ways to make the High Street more attractive, including new planters, painting street furniture, installing interesting interpretation boards, making the boulders to stop parking on the pavements more attractive, and the introduction of a community-wide project, Rushden in Bloom.
She said: “I think it’s all about bringing that pride into the High Street.”
Julie is working to produce a new heritage trail for the town and to refresh and update the Rushden town guide.
She has also been working with partners at East Northants Council to look at ways to get better signage and promotion of the Greenway, which links the two towns.
Over in Higham Ferrers, Julie held a successful event for businesses to go along and meet her and she has organised a best dressed shop window competition and a trail where children are invited to search for gargoyles hidden in shop windows around the town from Saturday, November 19.
The launch of this will coincide with the Higham Ferrers Sparkle, the town’s annual festive event culminating in the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights.
Julie will be there and is looking forward to meeting more people from the town.
The following week sees the celebration of the Christmas lights in Rushden High Street, with fun for all the family taking place on Saturday, November 26, from 11.15am onwards before the big switch-on at about 4.30pm.
Since starting the job, which has been funded for three years by the developers behind Rushden Lakes, Julie said she has been amazed by how much is going on in both towns and while she says her role is ‘evolving’ she has lots of ideas.
She added: “It’s all about improving and enhancing.
“By the end of year one, we might have much more of an idea of exactly where we are going.
“We have had meetings with the Crown estate about Rushden Lakes and it’s all been very positive, we are working together.
“We would like to have strong links with the Rushden Lakes site manager.”
Julie has said she would like to see good signage promoting the town at the Rushden Lakes site and vice-versa to ensure the two areas complement each other.
Having completed her first six months, Julie said she is enjoying the role and added: “People have been very supportive, but I still feel I am finding my feet, there’s new things all the time.
“The role is for three years, but that three years is going to go so quickly.
“I do feel I am starting to make some headway now.”
Julie has previous experience in town centre management, having worked within the town centre management team and with the town centre business improvement district in Northampton.
Anyone who would like to get in touch with Julie can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.