Town's shopping space will top Bluewater

MAIDSTONE will have more shopping space than Bluewater when the Fremlins centre opens for business in 2005.

That was the confident message from Maidstone councillor Dan Daley when he opened the second Maidstone Enterprise Week on Tuesday.

It followed confirmation that the £100 million centre is to go ahead, with the first work starting soon.

Speaking in the Corn Exchange, Cllr Daley, portfolio holder for economic development and tourism, said it was a "wonderful piece of news for this town".

He said: "It's going to make us the biggest retail centre in Kent and that means bigger than Bluewater by 2005."

By then, the county town will have 1.4m sq. ft. of retail space, he said, while Bluewater has around 1.3m sq. ft.

Cllr Daley went on: "Retailing in towns has been seen to be under attack for so many years by out-of-town shopping but Maidstone has held its own.

"It's beginning to show signs of making a new name for itself as a centre of business, entertainment and tourism. It's a good place for business and I believe business can be established here and do exceptionally well."

Maidstone Enterprise Week came close to being called off when Bill Alder, chief executive of Maidstone Chamber of Commerce, resigned suddenly just days before it was due to start. Mr Alder pioneered the first enterprise week a year ago and had been closely involved in this year's event.

However, chamber staff rallied round and kept the show on the road. Alan Reading, chamber president, paid tribute to them, singling out Alistair Moore for special praise.

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