Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The history of Chesterfield is every bit as important as its future

I am always amazed that the town still has surprises to reveal to me. Most recently it has been the discovery of the organisation that puts the Blue Plaques on many of our historic buildings. – Chesterfield and District Civic Society.

The latest plaque was unveiled at Chesterfield Market Hall, a fitting culmination of the investment and refurbishment that was completed there last year. Like the Market Hall, there are many buildings in Chesterfield that we probably drive or walk past every day. They blend into the fabric of the town but actually held create our town’s landscape as we know it today.

Chesterfield is steeped in history. We are well-known for our crooked spire but how many of us know it for being the resting place of the ‘Father of the Railways’ - George Stephenson?

The history of Chesterfield is every bit as important as its future and we are working hard to ensure a sustainable one for the town and everyone who lives here. That’s why it’s important to create opportunity for companies to invest here. Companies that choose to invest here bring jobs with them and employment opportunities for the next generation.

An excellent example of this is Chesterfield’s food and drink industry. In recent years the wealth and variety of eating and drinking establishments has increased. Where once we might have travelled out of town to a good restaurant, we now have a multitude on our doorstep.

I am delighted, therefore, to announce that the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards – which recognise this thriving sector - will be taking place both this year and next having secured sponsorship from Chesterfield College until 2015.

Last year the College was the headline sponsor of the inaugural awards and took a very active role in the awards ceremony. Not only was the ceremony hosted at the college’s Heartspace building, but the students catered for the event.

The award ceremony gives Chesterfield College Hospitality and Catering students an opportunity to be involved in a real professional and prestigious event, which supports the development of their commercial and industry relevant skills. The awards also provide fantastic opportunities for Chesterfield College students to showcase their high level professional skills and experience different aspects of the industry and to also be involved in the planning, preparation and delivery of a high profile regional event where employers have the opportunity to meet future employees.

Watch this space. In the same way Chesterfield College may produce the next Michelin starred chef, the town’s developments of today like Chesterfield Waterside and Casa Hotel could be the blue plaque bearers of the future.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Celebrating our retail scene

Did you know that Destination Chesterfield has been around for three and a half years in March?

During this time I am proud and delighted to have been part of the team that has helped spread the message of our town’s success and make it a place businesses want to invest in and people want to live.

We have experienced some great achievements during this time, however it’s important to take time to reflect on this success; where we’ve come from and where we are going to. That’s why the Celebrate Chesterfield events are so important. We held our latest one on 19th March and 200 members of the local business community gathered at the Proact Stadium to hear from myself the Destination Chesterfield team.

Whilst we might have done the talking , we are in no doubt that it is the engagement of the local community – businesses, schools and residents – that has been instrumental in the tremendous success of Destination Chesterfield since the campaign began in 2010.

Today we have more than 140 Chesterfield Champions and the support for the campaign is stronger than ever, many taking the time to get actively involved either speaking at or sponsoring Destination Chesterfield events.

Our brand new Retail Awards are no exception. Launched at the Celebrate Chesterfield event, the awards capitalise on the town’s ongoing success as one of the UK’s top 10 best performing centres with the least vacant shops.

They aim to seek out, recognise, celebrate and promote Chesterfield’s retailers as well as highlighting their commitment and importance to the town and the local economy. Our town has a thriving retail economy which is envied nationally.

Where other town centres are faced with high vacancy rates, Chesterfield is bucking the trend and attracting high street names such as Debenhams and ToysRus as well as independent retailers, giving us an excellent mix of shops, helping us attract visitors to our town and investors to the area who are keen to capitalise on our retail success. Only last month it was announced that the national department store Boyes would be opening in Chesterfield.

The success of these awards however is down to you. Shops and stores can only win if they are nominated by you, their customers.

Making a nomination is free and the nomination period is open from 1st April – 30th April with the winner being announced at a grand awards ceremony at the Assembly Rooms on 18th June.

If you’re reading this following a recent shopping trip and you want to recognise the store for their excellent customer service or brilliant disabled access, then nominate now by simply filling in the form or online at

Make no mistake, you are instrumental in the success of the 2014 Chesterfield Retail Awards.