A NEW group bringing businesses and the public together to help make Haddington the best it can be has been created.

Haddington Business Community Partnership (HBCP) has been formed with a view to improving the town centre for the benefit of businesses, residents and visitors alike.

Joanna Gibson, from Gibson’s on Market Street, is the group’s chairwoman, and said: “We are already working with a lot of community groups and supporting them.

“Haddington Pipe Band calendars, Friends of the River Tyne books, we sell them in the shop. Haddington Athletic Football Club are on board as well and we support Blooming Haddington. That is a start but we are hoping that will progress more and we can work more with each other moving forward.”

Already the group has more than 65 members ranging from town centre businesses to the town’s football club.

Community links have been strengthened, with members volunteering at the town’s fireworks display and Armistice parade.

HBCP has been formed as a separate organisation to Haddington and District Business Association.

Mrs Gibson stressed they were not rivals and the new group had formed naturally.

She felt it was important that businesses had a strong voice, particularly as the town continued to evolve.

More than 1,000 new homes are being built on the town’s western edge, with plans for a further 275 at Letham Mains being drawn up.

At the same time, there are discussions taking place regarding the possibility of two retail parks being created at Gateside and Harperdean.

Mrs Gibson said: “It is a time of change for the town and we need to be all as one.

“Everybody is going to have different views about it but there are things that are going to be changing.

“There is the transport strategy just come out as well and the threat of parking charges and retail parks.

“Businesses in the town need to have a strong voice and I hope that is what we can provide.

“When we have got threats you cannot control you need to have some sort of input on what is going to happen.”

She added: “As a town, we are really lucky with what we have. Obviously we could do even better but with the independent shops we are really lucky compared to other town centres in Scotland.

“We need to praise that and build on it and keep people coming to Haddington.”