11:15AM, Thursday 30 September 2021
New town manager Robyn Bunyan says she has some ‘exciting plans’ for the area as Maidenhead emerges from a pandemic and undergoes extensive regeneration.
The former Norden Farm education manager, who had been at the arts centre for 11 years, took over the council role on September 8, with her predecessor Steph James now working alongside her.
Robyn and Steph (pictured together below) have outlined their vision for ensuring Maidenhead has ‘something for everyone’ after COVID, which they say has given the town a chance to start afresh.
Robyn said that she wants to provide an ‘identity’ to the town, with a focus on ensuring popular community events such as the Christmas lights switch-on remain on the calendar.
A return of Maidenhead at the Movies is also in the pipeline, while plans are also in motion to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next June.
Robyn’s other ambitions include championing the town’s market traders.
“I have been very lucky to hone my skills [at Norden Farm] and bring those into this job,” Robyn said.
“I am not starting completely new – I am already very well connected.
“It’s brilliant, I feel comfortable and excited about lots of projects coming forward.
“For me, the pandemic has almost done us a favour, it has given us a rest. Now is the perfect time to change and create things that are new and exciting from the bones of what we already had.
"For example, if you are a young person you can look forward to a lively nightlife.
“It’s about making sure there is something for everyone – Maidenhead has a huge demographic of people. I have got lots of ideas up my sleeve and am keen to speak with more groups.”
When asked how she would want to see Maidenhead in five years, Robyn added: "I would hope that it has created vibrancy.
"People enjoy sitting and sharing their time in Maidenhead, and I want that to spread up the high street and see creative things happening, I want us to be vibrant, a community for everyone."
Much has been made of Maidenhead’s footfall levels and shopping offer, with some claiming the town is lagging behind rivals.
Steph called on people to support their town centre, adding that a 30 per cent drop in footfall post-COVID was similar with the rest of the UK.
She added that work is being done on better public messaging to ensure people know exactly what is happening in Maidenhead – such as by placing signs over empty shops to inform people of how the space will be redeveloped.
“We are really lucky that we have got a lot of investment from the private sector and will see change happening,” Steph said.
“Our businesses are prepared to be agile, and we have got a real chance to rebuild and make the town better than what it was.
“The shopping centre will be knocked down and there will be disruption, but Robyn’s role is about maintaining that vibrancy.
“You can’t control how long it takes for the centre to be rebuilt – but Robyn can put on amazing events in the town centre.
“She has come into the role with real enthusiasm and I am confident she will do an incredible job.”
The pair added that the constant conversation around Maidenhead showed that people 'care' about their community, with Robyn saying she is 'happy people are just talking about the town'.
To get in touch with Robyn with ideas for the town, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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