Tourism projects boost town

Newent Town Council and the Newent Initiative want to put the town on the tourist map - although it is impossible at the moment to even buy a postcard showing its picturesque black and white centre. Two requests for money and support on the agenda at Monday's meeting put tourism in councillors' minds.

They voted to pay £350 from their tourism budget to the Dancing Through the Dean event, which will come to all four Forest towns on July 12.

"If we are going to invest in events like this," Mayor Councillor Fred Passant said, "we need to get value for money and attract new people into the town."

Councillor David Blick, who works on the event and proposed the grant, said he thought that the Forest of Dean District Council should be paying for it.

"They should be promoting this as a major tourist attraction," he said.

A request from Newent Community School and the town's leisure centre backing for a bid for lottery money to upgrade dilapidated changing facilities was supported, but some councillors asked why the centre was closed on Saturday afternoons when it could be attracting swimmers and sports people into the town.

"I'm in favour of supporting them," said Councillor Len Lawton, "but I would have thought that Saturday afternoon was a prime time for them." The council voted to write in support of the bid.

Cllr Passant reported that tourism was the main concern that local people raised in surveys conducted by the Newent Initiative, and that money would be spent to improve the town's image.


"Rather than a desperate call for more jobs or housing," he said, "the biggest issue is the promotion of Newent as a tourist destination."

One of the first visible signs of this promotion will be new postcards of the town; the next is likely to be an independent tourism office for the town.

"Incredibly," said Councillor Passant, "the only postcards of the town available are two from the 1970s. The shops in town have stopped selling them."

The town's chamber of trade has commissioned new designs, he said. Cllr Passant also praised the Newent on-line website and said that a new tourism office could be up and running by spring 2004.

And from the Ledbury Reporter...

"Quick win" projects planned as part of the Newent Initiative should be completed this month.

Mayor Fred Passant said the town notice boards, to be situated by the Market Hall, should be in place this week. Six cycle racks should also be installed in the town centre in the near future.

Coun Passant also announced that Newent WI had installed a picnic bench by the lakeside and he thanked them on behalf of the community.

He said there were also plans to produce four new postcards of the town under the Newent Initiative.

Coun Passant said the only existing cards of the town showed the Market House in the 1970s.