Tunbridge Wells is facing strong competition as a retail and leisure destination and needs to develop a powerful brand of its own if it is to succeed.
That was the message from the Royal Tunbridge Wells Better Together campaign at its launch on Wednesday, attended by business leaders from across the borough.
The new organisation, which has been registered as an official company, has already built up a £250,000 war chest for the next three years in order to deliver its objectives.
With substantial financial backing, and encouragement from the borough council, have contributed £40,000, lending further credibility to the scheme.
“Our aim is to make Tunbridge Wells a strong unique brand, a strong location to do business and a connected town”, said founding member Nicky Blanchard, centre manager of Royal Victoria Place.
“We will achieve this by increasing the geographic penetration of current town marketing, develop a specific Tunbridge Wells brand to communicate the offer and make it easier to find out what is going on in the town.”
Other aims, as part of a broad business plan, include the encouragement of start-ups, working with landlords to improve the range of businesses in the town and giving companies ‘a strong and co-ordinated voice’ to shape the future.
Parking, an issue which was brought up by several attendees as a big burden on businesses, will also be targeted in a drive to increase footfall, said Mrs Blanchard.
Stephen Gurney, proprietor of Index magazine and co-founder said: “The idea is to get everybody working together for the good of Tunbridge Wells.”
He said the town needed a strong co-ordinated voice to act on behalf of businesses, a feature which has been lacking in the past, adding:
“Tunbridge Wells has not had a town centre manager like it should have.”
The role of town centre manager is a permanent position, with the individual acting as the voice of the organisation and reporting to the board of directors to ensure the successful implementation of the business plan.
Speaking on behalf of the council, Jane March, portfolio holder for tourism, leisure and economic development said: “We are fully behind this initiative.
“Right from the word go it has been through cabinet and other committees who have said, ‘this is what we have been waiting for, this is what we want to do’”.