Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Nowhere nicer, says new town manager

Nowhere nicer, says new town manager

HENLEY’S new town centre manager says she wants to make her mark.

Laurie-Jane Cann is responsible for supporting and enhancing the town centre and its economy by ensuring it is a vibrant place for businesses, residents and visitors.

She said: “I love Henley, I can’t imagine a nicer town to work in and I’m excited to be part of its future.

“What I want to do is enhance what Henley already is — we are placed on the most beautiful stretch of the river, it’s a lovely town and a shining example of a high street with incredible independent businesses.

“I would like to leave a positive legacy and feel that this is really where I can make my mark. I feel I’m already part of the community, which is lovely, as everyone has been very
welcoming.” Mrs Cann, 47, lives in Steventon, near Abingdon, with her husband Geoff, 49, who works as a paint sprayer for a car business, and their two dogs.

She was Oxford city centre manager for 10 years and then chief executive at Newbury Business Improvement District.

In 2020, she set up her own business, Pink Tiger Beauty, a beauty and indoor tanning salon in Abingdon, which she still owns.

She said: “I’ve been in place management for more than a decade and I’ve taken a couple of years to focus on my business during the pandemic. I was happy to step back to do that and hopefully now we’re passed the worst of it.

“In my previous roles I worked to ensure town and city centres were thriving and that local authorities were involved in that.

“It was on a bigger scale but very similar to what I will be doing in Henley now. It would be foolish to take up this role and say, ‘This is what needs to happen’, when you need to understand the businesses and the retailers first, so I’m looking forward to spending more time getting to know them. It’s about understanding what I think needs to be added to what is already a perfectly baked cake.

“I’ve already talked to some of the retailers and we discussed some of the issues that affect the town. We are approaching a very busy time of the year with the regatta and the festival coming up and, of course, we are already planning for this year’s Christmas festival.

“I would love to ensure that all visitors who frequent the town throughout the year make the most of what it has to offer.

“Henley’s town centre already bucks the trend when it comes to vacancy rates, which is such a fantastic achievement, but it is so important that we continue to keep in brimming with viability and vitality.

“High streets have been evolving for many years and are now much more experiential than transactional and it is important that the local leaders and the community invest into that narrative.”

Mrs Cann succeeds Craig Buckby, who resigned in February after 17 weeks in post.

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