THE first tentative steps are being made towards setting up a new group to give a unified voice to retailers and businesses in a North-Yorkshire town.

Following an enthusiastic response to a public meeting held in Northallerton n in October, the steering group is now starting to map out its next steps.

An application is being prepared for modest cash help from Hambleton and Richmondshire Strategic Forum's community grants scheme to help set up a website and create a welcome pack for potential new members.

And an ice-breaking social event is planned for the evening of January 24, at Barkers' newly-refurbished café bistro, when it is hoped to host a speaker from a nearby chamber of trade so that it can learn from other experiences.

Founding member Gareth Dant said: “It's going to be a long, steady haul to get a formal group off the ground from scratch, to a position where it can effectively fight the corner of Northallerton's commercial interests and for this reason we are setting modest, achievable short-term goals.

“The first of these is to ensure that the forum is as representative as possible, so we urge any retailers or businesses that have not yet come forward to get in touch and express an interest.

“There is no cost at this stage – all we ask for is constructive input. It would be particularly helpful if representatives from the multiples and chains got involved too - not just independents.”

For more details about the group, and the January event, contact Gareth Dant on 01609-765149 or via The forum is also on Facebook and Twitter.