Uppingham invited to share its secret for success

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The huge strides made in Uppingham have led to town councillors being invited to a national conference - to share the secrets of their success.

Earlier this week Uppingham Heritage Trail scooped the top prize in the Towns Alive Awards 2014’s East Zone Renaissance Category for its “inventive ideas”.

On Wednesday the town was announced a winner in the East Midlands in Bloom awards, scooping gold in the Small Town category. Last year it won a Silver Gilt. Uppingham’s Falcon Inn retained its title of ‘best garden/pub display’

And today (Thursday) the town’s Mayor David Ainslie and councillor Ron Simpson will address the National Association of Local Councils’ Making Localism Work conference, in Bristol, to tell them how Uppingham, a town of just 4,500 people, achieved success.

“We were asked how we manage to do so much,” Coun Ainslie said. “Our talk will be about how we achieved success in a small market town by working together with the whole community.”

Coun Ainslie said the town’s strength lay in its collaboration with business and community groups, residents’ associations, neighbourhood forums and all four schools.

“It’s a joint effort,” Coun Ainslie said.

The Heritage Trail won praise from the Towns Alive Awards 2014 judges who said it was “engaging and well delivered”.

The trail was created after visitors were seen wandering about not knowing what to look for among the town’s historic buildings. It consists of 20 identified sights linked by a printed map and guide with seven interpretation boards along the route.

Each site is identified by a numbered plaque with a two-dimensional bar code that links smartphones to the trail’s website, and includes a virtual museum of the town’s history.

Projects that have helped propel the small market town into the limelight and earned plaudits from other authorities include:

- The new Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan - policies and proposals to help shape the future of the town;

- Uppingham Feast - a community festival organised by the Town Partnership;

- Christmas market - successfully run annually;

- Broadband - the town is among the top 1 per cent in the world for the fastest broadband;

- Skatepark - the council secured a £75,000 grant to build it;

- Parking - the town is negotiating with Rutland County Council to take control of its parking.

Coun Simpson, who is also director and secretary of Uppingham First said: “We’ve had lots of private sector investment to refurbish the shopping centre.

“There are plans to build a 30-metre broadband mast which will enable the town to have faster broadband in country areas and broadcast 4G mobile signals across Rutland. It would make Uppingham one of the first market towns to have such a facility.”

The town has also secured a £28,500 grant from the Housing Communities Association for drawing up architects plans for developing the town hall site.

Coun Ainslie said the aim was to create a space that retains a sprung dance floor, has multi-use rooms where heritage items can be stored and displayed, have meeting rooms and incorporates the Queen’s Street library.

Uppingham’s success, he added, was down to everyone in the town working towards the same goal.

“There is an absolute community feel here: we have a very, very strong community spirit,” he said.