HOME to a bustling High Street, accessible transport links and soaring property prices, Councillor Jeanie Bell has spoken to the Star about why she thinks the community of Newton-le-Willows is thriving.

The variety of independent businesses on Newton’s High Street, combined with its parks, schools and transport links have helped the area become the second hottest property seller in the country, as reported by a Rightmove study earlier this year.

At a time when high streets across the country are struggling with the consequences of coronavirus and declining footfall, Newton-le-Willows seems to be bucking this trend, with High Street lined with community-focused and successful independent businesses.

St Helens Star: Customers enjoying drinks outside Riddling Rack, on High Street, earlier this yearCustomers enjoying drinks outside Riddling Rack, on High Street, earlier this year

Representing Newton ward, Councillor Jeanie Bell said: “Newton High Street is a vibrant place at the moment but that hasn't only just happened, it's been years of investment by local business owners that's led to a bustling High Street which is defying the current national trends in terms of footfall and public use.

“There is also a real feeling of community and ownership, many of the businesses have been involved in supporting local community groups, charities and supporting events such as Newton-le-Willows Town show, so people feel a sense of loyalty and community.

“Residents want those businesses to thrive because they love having them in our town and see the contribution they make. That’s not just Newton High Street either, its across Newton-le-Willows. In Wargrave and Earlestown too.”

St Helens Star: Mamma J's is just one of the community-focused independent businesses on Newton's High StreetMamma J's is just one of the community-focused independent businesses on Newton's High Street

It was noted how a collective community focus is a major reason for the success of businesses in Newton-le-Willows, with many supported, promoted and owned by local people.

Not only do these businesses support the community with their “fantastic customer service”, but they are also said to support and promote one another, while providing essential services to people during the pandemic.

This is said to have created a close-knit community that is united in supporting local businesses and independent traders, from the cafes and bars to the clothes shops and hair salons.

Jeanie added: “It's been incredible to see the community and businesses come together during the pandemic, everything from food donations and deliveries, to fundraisers for local charities [...] [to] businesses diversifying as much as possible to keep trading despite restrictions, and to those residents who keep shopping local to support businesses who really need it.

“It had a feel of 'we are in this together' [and] the entire community rallied round. You only have to look at some of the events that took place during lockdown to see how it brought us together. We were absolutely united in supporting those who need it the most, that's the community in Newton-le-Willows. People really care.”

St Helens Star: Councillor Jeanie BellCouncillor Jeanie Bell

Traders are encouraged to join the Council’s Businesses Engagement Forum to build quality relationships and continue this “thriving community”; designed to help local businesses grow, diversify and expand to maintain the High Street’s success.

Additionally, there are also plans to introduce business safety accreditation schemes, social media and online training for business, and access to apps to assist the hospitality sector and business promotion.

The council also promises to set up a Small Business Grants programme to help grow and create more jobs, refurbish premises and introduce digitisation and technology to enable businesses to expand into new markets.

Jeanie added: “[Newton] is built and supported by the people who live, work, shop and socialise here, [and] we are proud of that.

“[Moving forward] it's an exciting time for Newton-le-Willows and the Borough as whole.”