Focus on town centres

“The first step to turn around towns is to show we care.” From Twitter

Iain is currently working with colleagues on projects in Wantage and Banbury as a town team co-ordinator, and on an Independent Shops Project in Abingdon. Until recently he co-ran a ‘pop up shop’ project in Wallingford and worked with local partners on a town centre vitality project for Swindon.

“Great to meet you and sounds like you’re doing a brilliant job for your town.” From FaceBook

The Wantage Town Team – with team mate Mim Norvell, supported by Neil Wild – has worked on a range of initiatives including opening the Flashop pop up shop and a community space on the town’s Mill Street as well as developing the Wantage & Grove Loyalty scheme, facilitating creation of the Wantage presents… public performance and art thread, producing new town maps, what’s on guides, #shoplocal short films, a ‘Now and then’ Museum expo, a series of town trails and window display projects, plus commissioning a GoogleMyBusiness initiative

“…a lot of us independents wouldn’t be here without the help of the town team.” Town Centre business owner

“You are doing a brilliant job!!! We wouldn’t be here without your help.” Town Centre business owner

OG EmptiesIn October 2013 the Vale of White Horse District Council announced that: “The number of shop units currently lying vacant in the district has reached a five year low.” It added: “The big success story for the district has been Wantage where the vacancy rate has more than halved in the last twelve months.”

“Well done to you guys, you have been great for the town. It’s amazing to see the difference you and Mim have made. Thank you!” From FaceBook

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The Cherwell District Council-funded Banbury #townteam project is focusing on work with landlords and agents to reduce the number of empty town centre shops, and exploring opportunities to introduce the pop up, community shop and meanwhile window display concepts. The brief also includes identifying gaps in the town’s retail and leisure offer, promoting Banbury to would-be new town centre businesses, helping develop initiatives that reduce “leakage” of spending power, and strengthening stakeholder relationships. You can keep up to date @BanburyTownTeam on Twitter.

Thanks for all you do in Banbury Iain. Your support is much appreciated.” From FaceBook

Mon Petit Oscar OGThe first of what has become a series of Wallingford pop up shops opened in July 2015, proving popular from the start.

“Great job of setting up the pop up shop @prbi_Iain, it’s looking great!”

“There are very few empty shops. The pop up shop initiative, backed by the town council, has been a huge success.”


Launched in January 2017 – with Flashop UK Ltd co-director Neil Wild – the Swindon project focused on working with landlords and agents to tackle barriers to empty units being let, and attracting businesses – especially independents – into the town centre. The project is currently on hold.

“I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you and Neil for all you’ve done for us in Swindon over the past year. We appreciate you helping us to see what is possible.”


In August 2017, Iain was commissioned by the Vale Council to work with local partners on a scheme aimed at attracting independent shops to Abingdon, supporting existing retailers and increasing town centre vitality. An early success for the project was agreement for a shopping centre pop up shop by a local group of Etsy sellers.


Iain’s take on high street issues and the challenges facing our town centres are on twitter at prbi_Iain. We’ve also created a list of town centre indies in Oxfordshire’s towns who follow us on twitter at

“No-one works harder around Oxfordshire to ensure shops like @MostlyReading will still be here when you next come in.” From Twitter