TENBURY town centre is prospering and bucking the national trend of decline.

But this can only continue if the town is prepared to accept change.

This is the view of Tony Penn, who represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council.

“Recently, at a seminar Tenbury was highlighted as a beacon of success compared with other market towns in Worcestershire that are struggling,” said Mr Penn.

He says that with the exception of Tesco and Spa the town benefits from not having a lot of national chains.

Mr Penn has always been a supporter of the Tesco development and says that it has benefitted from the arrival of the supermarket chain.

“Unlike many towns we do not have a lot of national chains and Tenbury benefits from its vibrant independent shops.

“These add to what Tesco has to offer. These specialist shops can provide services that the big stores cannot.

“For example, Tesco does not sell a range of shoes or have a fish counter.”

He said that the wide variety of high-quality shops in Tenbury added to the attraction of the town.

“I am especially admiring the sweet shop, Mr Thom’s that has taken up the challenge, is now selling bread and looking to start making its own chocolate,” added Mr Penn.

“This is real entrepreneurship and demonstrates that small shops in small market towns can be successful.”

But Mr Penn, who is a former chairman of the Malvern Hills District Council Northern Area Planning Committee, says that town centres are going to have to change and adapt.

“Town centres will look very different in the future to how they have in the past,” Mr Penn said.

“There have to be reasons for people to come into town other than just to shop. In Tenbury we have the advantage of an excellent entertainment venue in the Regal where there are exciting expansion plans.

“Some people may think that there are too many coffee shops, but these bring people into the town where they can relax and meet friends.”

The veteran councillor believes that Tenbury is showing that it is capable of change.

“There was a time when people used to say that Tenbury was as dead as a dodo after 1pm on a Saturday but now it is much busier and more vibrant,” Mr Penn added.

“We have an excellent Visitor Information Centre staffed by a great team of volunteers.”

He thinks that town centres must be at the heart of local communities and this means people living in them.

“To be successful town centres need to provide homes where people can live and be close to the facilities,” said Mr Penn.

“There needs to be more housing and smaller homes. Older people do not want gardens, but they want to live in places where it is flat and the services that they need are close at hand.

“I am optimistic about the future and Tenbury is better placed than many similar towns.”