Chipping Norton has moved into first place in the national competition to find Britain’s best high street.
Four weeks into the six-week public voting period, a rankings release by the Great British High Street Competition has revealed that in the Market Town category, the Oxfordshire town has stolen a march on rivals Helmsley and Colne to take top spot.
But with two weeks to go until voting closes, that could all change.
Winners in each of the seven categories get a share of a prize pot worth £80,000 which includes expert training and tailor-made tips from Google’s training taskforce for 100 of their shops, bars and restaurants.
With the public vote making up 50 per cent of the final decision, the team behind the town’s bid is urging local people to get behind their bid for glory.
Shaun Fagan, bid leader, said: “We’ve had an exciting fortnight featuring a number of events to highlight the competition, and we’ve decorated the town to commemorate the judges visit.
“I’ve sensed a real momentum shift in support. It feels like we have everyone in Chipping Norton behind us but we need them all to keep voting to make sure we stay at the top of the votes table.”
The Great British High Street Competition 2015 is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Boots, Costa, Post Office, Marks and Spencer and Tesco.
Now in its second year and is one of a number of initiatives to help champion high streets as the cornerstones of the community.
These include a billion pound package of investment ranging from targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices.
Marcus Jones, High Street minister, said: “High streets are at the very heart of our communities and these awards celebrate the great innovative work happening on the ground to help them adapt and flourish.
“Chipping Norton did fantastically well to make it into the final three but now they need your help to get them the title of Britain’s best high street.
“Over 100, 000 votes have already been cast, but all is still to play for with two weeks of voting still to go. So get behind your high street by voting!”
This year’s competition saw a record 230 applicants and now, for the first time, the public has the chance to vote directly for their best-loved high street online
Between now and November 13 you can cast your vote for free via thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk or on Facebook.
Alongside the public vote each finalist will be visited by an expert judge – one of a panel of industry experts from the Future High Streets Forum. The judges have a 50% say on who wins the competition.
This year’s competition also sees prizes for the 10 ‘rising stars’ and special recognition awards to people or places that have made an invaluable contribution to their local high streets.
The first Great British High Street competition last year saw 135 communities battle it out to be crowned the nation’s best.
Belper in Derbyshire emerged as the overall winner and the town found that winning not only boosted town pride, but also had a tangible economic impact with retailers reporting increased footfall.
To go online to cast your vote, visit the Great British High Street website and follow @TheGBHighSt on Twitter.