'Better in Bungay': Town's new brand to rid 'quaint' label
- Credit: Reece Hanson
A "quaint" market town is rebranding in a bid to become "bustling and vibrant."
Bungay Events and Business Association (BEBA) have been working in partnership with the town council to improve the visitor offering, with a new brand and slogan unveiled this week.
The 'Better in Bungay' brand aims to help the town rid its current perception among visitors, after a People and Places survey, carried out in 2019, found many considered the town to be 'quaint'.
Didy Ward, chair of BEBA, said: "The People and Places survey asked people for a word to summarise Bungay. Some were negative, such as 'adequate' or 'declining', but the biggest was 'quaint'.
"We want Bungay to be described as 'bustling and vibrant'.
"It is important for our town's economy to be able to attract as many businesses into Bungay as possible."
Following the survey, the town was awarded a £10,000 grant from East Suffolk Council, who ran the survey, in a bid to improve on the findings.
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Ms Ward said: "We have also been given a £10,000 grant to help rejuvenate the town and we are working together with the relevant groups to do that.
"We want to improve the visitor offering generally, such as updating the signs in the car park, which is one of the first things people see when they arrive in town."
Other plans include collating and rebranding the town's brochures and leaflets, while a number of other business boosting plans are in the pipeline, or are already in motion.
Launched in December, the Click It Local scheme is running in a number of East Suffolk towns, and allows shoppers to buy online from local stores and have their goods delivered on the same or next day.
By October, visitors in Bungay will also be able to use free Wi-Fi in the town centre as part of a district council scheme set to be rolled-out.
The £1.1 million programme will officially switch on in Lowestoft and Felixstowe in April, while a further nine east Suffolk towns, including Bungay, will be online by October.
The other towns include Beccles, Halesworth, Southwold, Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham, Wickham Market and Woodbridge.
The authority is spending around £900,000 on the scheme, with a further £200,000 from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
The programme will also allow anonymous footfall tracking, allowing businesses to see the most regular routes of shoppers and the busiest times of day.
Bungay mayor John Adams said: "I remember about 15 years ago being upstairs in the Fisher Theatre asking why Bungay didn't have a brand.
"Over Christmas I was standing outside holding a bag of Brussels sprouts for the council's 12 days of Christmas campaign with a bag saying 'Shop Bungay'.
"About three years ago East Suffolk Council did a People and Places survey and the result has helped shape the picture of what we want Bungay to be.
"Other towns had businesses which were 'vibrant' and 'vital' and that is what we want Bungay to be, plus."
Mr Adams also highlighted data from East Suffolk Council in December 2019 which found Bungay had the second highest percentage of empty shops in Suffolk towns.
A total of 17pc of shops were vacant at the time of the survey, an improvement on only Lowestoft with 21.4pc, but Mr Adams believes the tide has firmly turned.
He said: "Now, we've seen a lot of new businesses come in, and three of the major remaining vacant shops are probably going to be taken soon.
"This is a wonderful historic town and 'Better in Bungay' encompasses everything you can see, from health and wellbeing to the community spirit which has been so important over the last few years.
"It covers every facet of life in Bungay.
"The people of Bungay have really rallied together.
"We want to promote the whole town and our independent businesses. You wouldn't go to a Fat Face in Bungay. These are businesses who really care about our town.
"Bungay is driving forward quite hard and that is so important right now."
The 'Better in Bungay' plans were unveiled at a gathering of local business owners at the Fisher Theatre on Tuesday night.
Lucy Walker, deputy chair of BEBA and member of the town council's tourism and heritage working party, said: "The purpose of the meeting was to bring residents and business owners of Bungay together to get an update on the town centre and what we have been up to over the last few years, and all of the work that has been going on since the People and Places survey."
Mr Adams also highlighted the work of the town council since the pandemic began.
He said: "In lockdown, a lot of the town council's effort was spent in trying to help the community, especially vulnerable people, get what they needed.
"We have also been working hard to bring in assets to the town, starting with the Town Hall, which allowed us to put in an ATM and open the temporary Post Office there, and most recently a lot of green space and public toilets."
Businesses looking to sign up to the Click It Local scheme should email firstname.lastname@example.org.