AN elected committee of traders could be set up in a bid to highlight issues faced by Darlington’s business community.
Following recent conflict around parking issues in the town, leading businesswoman Beryl Hankin has called for traders to band together.
Ms Hankin – who has run the town’s Guru Boutique for more than 40 years – wants to set up a committee that would meet regularly with Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon and other council members.
She believes having a dedicated committee of traders representing businesses from across Darlington would “reduce justifiable conflict to a minimum and really benefit the town.”
She said: “There are other groups who are consulted at the planning stages of proposed changes or asked for ideas, so why not involve the people who know about their parts of the town centre?
“We all want the same thing, which is the continued success of our beloved town, and it seems to me that to involve an elected body of people with direct experience in this way would avoid a lot of mistrust, misunderstandings, pain, wasted energy and money.”
She added: “Each part of town has its own issues and only the people trying to cope with those issues know what might help to solve them.
“Huge consultations don’t work, they just result in confusion and somebody in the town hall deciding for us in the end.
“There is a wealth of local knowledge and experience out here and we’re all willing to be unpaid consultants.
“We could never do what the council does but we do know about retail and we care about our public and have an idea of what they expect from a good town centre.”
The committee would work separately to Distinct Darlington, the town's business improvement district (Bid), a non-political body which takes a levy from businesses to finance projects aimed at improving Darlington.
Nicola Reading, the chair of BID, said: “It’s a very different thing as it’s about politics and pushing for a better town in that way.
“There may be people willing to stand up and be counted and good luck to her, I would love to see something come about as a result of her passion.”
Darlington Borough Council’s leader Councillor Bill Dixon said a meeting had already been arranged with a number of town centre traders to discuss their issues and concerns.