THE message from Wyre Forest residents and businesses attending last night’s State of the Area debate was that the district had the potential to bloom.
Nearly 100 people attended the event, organised by Wyre Forest District Council, to ask questions about economic development and regeneration in Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley.
The event started at 5pm at Wyre Forest House with a regeneration fair followed by a lively public debate in the council chamber chaired by The Shuttle editor Clive Joyce.
Displays and exhibition stands at the regeneration fair detailed new projects that are transforming the area including an opportunity to see and comment on proposals for revitalising the public spaces around Kidderminster town centre.
The public debate opened with a keynote address from Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier.
Topics in his address ranged from local transport improvements to support for local small businesses and large scale tourism projects.
During the public debate questions from the floor prompted a discussion on town centres and what they could look and feel like in the future and where potential new businesses could source funding and professional support.
Councillors Fran Oborski, Jamie Shaw, Howard Martin and Helen Dyke were called on to answer questions around four key themes, town centres, business, skills and connectivity.
Ian Miller, chief executive of the district council and web officer Maria Crabbe fed questions into the debate live from twitter.
Panel chair Clive Joyce encouraged the debate to run into extra time but any questions that were not debated on the night will be addressed on the council’s website in the next few days.
The 2013 State of the Area panel included Ken Wigfield, regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Andrews, partner of local estate agents Doolittle and Dalley, Jane Smith of Kidderminster Academy, MP Mark Garnier and Council leader John Campion.
Mr Campion said: “The topics highlighted in the debate made it clear that there is much to do to raise our game in terms of prosperity for the area and by working together there is the will to get things done.
“Despite our challenging times, the message from the event was overwhelmingly positive. It reinforced the fact that Wyre Forest people, regardless of age and background, have real aspirations and a vision for a thriving community.
“We will continue to work with partners to deliver support and investment in developing skills, creating attractive town centres for people to live and work, and developing good transport links to help bring this vision to reality.”