The Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce is getting restless. Not about the EU, not about interest rates, and not about business rates. It’s about the delays to Hinkley C.

The chairman Steve Leahy said: “We believe when the final investment decision (FID) is made business boom. We were told early January but early January has come and gone. I’ve had discussions today about it and made enquiries but we can’t get any news of the decision.”

He said many firms in the area were in a state of limbo waiting for the FID but there were other projects that were helping to see growth in the town and district.

“As a chamber we’ve been treading water for the last four years because of Hinkley,” he said, “but independent from that we need new hotels so having two news ones planned is exciting with more expected in the next few years. Also projects like the barrage will have a huge effect which will see work for contracts and ancillary work as well.

"There’s a new retail park in Bridgwater down by the Drove that’s planned, there’s the Huntspill Energy Park as well and the Celebration Mile which will open up the bridge to the railway. It’s a really positive project that will generate a café culture with a tree lined route and better transport links.”

He said the wish of the Chamber was to see the various projects benefitting local companies rather than firms from outside the area. One of the problems the town has in terms of attracting larger retailers he said was the unit size in the centre was small. The retail park at the Leggar Link was one area that could take larger stores. One parallel he drew was of another Somerset town as an example.

“If you look at Frome as an example which also has small units,” said Mr Leahy, “a former industrial town – we need to do the same and look at more bespoke retail offerings. Then people will visit the centre to buy things they can’t get at the big superstores. It’s a success story we can learn from.”

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