A HIGH street champion has been appointed in Yarm to help drive forward ambitions for the town's trade.

Stockton Borough Council is bidding for a slice of the national £675m Future High Streets Fund and has recently agreed to appoint a full-time member of staff to help Yarm Business Forum (YBF) deliver its vision for the town.

The forum has come up with a series of ideas to help boost trade in and around the High Street.

Changes to short stay parking were introduced in October.

And last month the Council confirmed that it is including Yarm alongside Stockton in its bid for the Future High Streets grant.

Now the Council has agreed to provide the Forum with a full-time member of staff, Sara Fellows, to assist YBF in delivering its ambitions for the town.

Councillor Nigel Cooke, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, said: “Town centres across the Borough are changing like never before. They need help and we’ve made it very clear that we’re ready to give it.

“We’ve been working closely with Yarm Business Forum for months now and we’re very impressed by them. They’re a positive group of ‘can-do’ businesses and they’re absolutely committed to ensuring the town prospers.

“We’re doing everything we can to help them. After all, they know what’s needed better than anyone. They’re looking at things like events and stepping up the marketing and promotion of the town, and improving infrastructure.

“We’re... providing a member of staff to support them in developing these ideas. This comes at a time when we’ve secured a long lease on Yarm Wharf, which gives us a huge opportunity to maximise the potential of the town’s riverside location.”

YBF’s Joint Chair, Rachel Dodd, added: “Whilst there are obvious national trends in traditional retail, Yarm has many positives: a higher occupancy rate than much of the UK, long-standing mix of independent and national businesses and a fast turnaround bringing in new business opportunities.

“Having a full time resource will make a significant impact in our ability to operate – by speeding up business collaboration, promoting and marketing Yarm more effectively and developing Yarm for a future market.

Meanwhile, the Council said it was continuing to work to bring forward proposals for long-stay parking to service the High Street.