Boom town back

A HIGH street which a few years ago was filled with empty premises is seeing a new lease of life.Leiston High Street has seen a spate of new businesses starting up over the past few months as it begins to boom once more.

STRANGE and wonderful things are happening in Leiston High Street.

A few years ago it was filled with empty premises but a spate of new businesses have starting up over the past few months as it begins to boom once more.

The start of 2003 has brought around half a dozen new shops and businesses to the high street, filling empty shop fronts and livening up the centre.

Among the newcomers are a new hairdresser's, a new card shop, an antiques store, and a tanning and beauty salon, soon to be joined by a café wine bar due to open in the next few months.

Wayne Burns, who has just opened a costume hire and party shop opposite the Leiston Film Theatre, felt things were looking up for the town.

He said: "I feel there are more people about these days. There seem to be a lot more people visiting Leiston to do shopping of various sorts."

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"The amount of people who have dropped in to have a look and wish you all the best has been nice," he said.

Leiston Business Association member Linda Pemberton, who runs a clothes shop, said the town had hit a low point two or three years ago with shops standing empty, but had now got a new lease of life.

"It really, really did look awful," she said. "It has been a hard two years with lots of shops empty."

But now she felt customers were being drawn in by the wide range of everyday shops in the town.

"We are not in the doldrums any more," she said.

"I definitely have noticed a difference. The whole shopkeepers in Leiston have been working together a lot more over the last three years anyway. We have been doing joint advertising and promoting the town in any way we can."

They were working hard to promote its assets, and wanted to get the message across to visitors to the area, she said.

Town council chairman Mike Taylor felt the environment of the town was improving all the time.

"Leiston is looking a lot better than it did," he said. "I think there is more going on there and the empty shops and restaurants or whatever that have been on the market for some time have actually been taken on."