Every available empty shop in St Margarets has been filled, thanks to the efforts of the St Margarets Traders Association and Richmond Council.

The Council has helped the organisation with funding for a number of schemes to raise awareness of the area. This has included match funded grants of £4,000 to help pay for St Margarets branded shopping bags, a magazine and several events during the year, including the summer and Christmas fair, which takes place on Sunday, 6 December.

Cllr Geoff Acton, Richmond Council’s Business Champion, said:

“We’ve increased our support for local businesses since the beginning of the downturn, and I’m pleased to find out that it has made a difference in St Margarets.

“A lot of the credit is due to the Traders Association for its hard work in promoting empty shops which are on the market and encouraging businesses to open there.

“This is a good example of the Council working with the community to achieve tangible results which make a difference for people in our towns and villages. I’m pleased to say the village is now a busier and more attractive place for people to visit.

“The message is that the help is there for all parts of the borough. We’ve just given nearly £5,000 to help promote business in Whitton and I’ve launched a set of grants to make our town centres look more presentable.”

The most recent business to open, taking up the last available shop premises, is a speciality yarn and haberdashery shop called Mrs Moon. This stocks wools, patterns, gifts and other bits and pieces for sewing and knitting.

It is estimated that in January of this year, 15 per cent of shops in the area were vacant. The St Margarets Traders Association, with help from the Council, launched a campaign earlier in the year to both promote the empty shops to businesses, and promote the whole area widely to show potential visitors what was on offer.

Simon Chapman, chair of St Margarets Traders Association, said:

“We are 55 independent businesses working together and we believe we have so many specialist shops and services that we wanted to highlight what’s here. I’d like to thank the Council for the help and support we’ve had and I want to remind everyone to shop locally this Christmas and find out what’s on their doorstep.”

For more information about the shops and businesses please visit www.mystmargarets.com

— from a Richmond Council press release