ANGEL Place Shopping Centre manager Roger Smith has always championed Bridgwater town centre, and in this week's Backing Bridgwater campaign he explains why.
"I have always been a big advocate of Bridgwater town centre and I don’t just mean Angel Place.
"We have a fantastic town centre with so many great retailers and not just the nationals. People often call for M&S and Primark but we have a number of independent retailers who provide great service week and week out and can help with the kind of expertise you simply cannot get on the internet," Mr Smith said.
"It is one of the big things we can shout about, the customer service in this town is second to none."
Mr Smith gave the example of Bridgwater Mace, a business he had seen grow from a newspaper stand into a thriving business.
"It can be frustrating because I think the town centre does have an unfair perception.
"The vacancy rate is lower than the national average, the town centre is not filled with charity shops, and we have some amazing architecture.
"Yes there are challenges and we have to acknowledge those but there are many positives to focus on too."
Mr Smith said other towns are crying out for the sorts of opportunities that are arising in Bridgwater at the moment.
"How many other towns round here are gaining a Mercure Hotel with a Marco Pierre-White Restaurant, on a Holiday Inn Express or Best Western?
"Then there is the development at the Energy Park and Hinkley C itself, the Northgate site and Celebration Mile too.
"I have a 14-year-old son and in terms of the opportunities available to him now he can hardly be in a better place."
Mr Smith said that people who say they want Bridgwater Town Centre to be more like Taunton were doing the town centre a disservice.
"What we want is Bridgwater to be the best Bridgwater it can be, not just mimic somewhere else.
Mr Smith also highlighted the amount of talent in the town with groups such as ACTS, Sally Williams and Julia McDonald dance companies, the Opera Society and of course the Bridgwater Carnival.
"I think the Backing Bridgwater campaign is a good idea, there are so many positive stories in Bridgwater and this is a great chance to get them heard," Mr Smith said.
"I think it is about getting people, including local people, to see just how good it is here."
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