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Busk stop and wifi shop boost for Dartford high street

Dartford town centre may be down but it is not out – as a raft of new plans aim to reinvigorate shopping, including free wifi, a busk stop and a market move.

One of the first changes will be the arrival of a ‘busk stop’ which will allow performers to play music and sing at One Bell Corner.

Council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) said: “Those performing will be of a certain quality and it will give people a place to go to perform. There will be a sound system and we’ll be putting this on for a trial period to see how it goes.

Jeremy Kite
Jeremy Kite

“There’s a lot of talented people out there and I think this will be a good opportunity for them.”

It is hoped the stop will be installed by the end of July or early August.

The moves come as the town still awaits the arrival of Tesco in Lowfield Street after countless delays.

Last week the Messenger revealed how the council is poised to buy some of the buildings on the site to speed up the development.

We also reported how three high street brands had vacated the Orchard Shopping Centre. The loss of Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Evans came after Waitrose closed in February.

But town bosses are determined to fight back against these setbacks and another initiative involved the introduction of free wifi for shoppers.

It comes as part of the Portas bid and the technology will utilise the existing CCTV network cables to offer the internet for free to people.

The Saturday market in Dartford
The Saturday market in Dartford

Cllr Kite continued: “At the moment you have to go to certain places to get wifi but we hope this will offer another reason to come into town. When you log on through your phone, it’ll bring up a page showing you what’s going on in the town that day.”

The Thursday market held in the car park of the Priory Shopping Centre next to Sainsburys will move into the high street.

It runs from 8.30am to 3.30pm and can have up to 220 stalls.

Cllr Kite added: “The traders are very happy with the move. Our lease to hold it in the car park is now up so we had a choice to make, either it closes or we move it and we certainly didn’t want to close it because it’s very popular.

“We’re also going to create a new food court area for the people selling meat and fish and we hope that will create a bit of a vibe.”

The market is expected to make the move in early September.

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