Praise has been lavished on Belper and its rich community spirit after the town’s ‘high street’ was crowned the best in England.
Belper town centre came out on top in the Great British High Street Awards, run by the government in partnership with Visa.
Commended for its community initiatives and digital innovations, the town won £5,000, beating off competition from 38 other shortlisted areas.
The accolade is a triumph for the Love Belper group, which was set up to bring retailers, shoppers, businesses, local groups and councils together to improve the town.
Visa boss Jeni Mundy: said: “Belper is a fantastic example of a community that has made huge strides in transforming its high street to significantly improve the experience for locals and visitors alike.
“Its success highlights the joint efforts of local organisations and businesses of the Love Belper partnership to showcase everything the high street has to offer.
“Its creation of a new website, plans for a new loyalty app and dedicated social media team to engage the community all show great innovation.
“Visa’s research shows 82 per cent of East Midlands shoppers say a thriving high street makes a town a more appealing destination, underlining why we all need to get behind our local businesses.”
Belper also took the top prize in 2014, and built on this by continuing to drive footfall from the surrounding area.
Love Belper has created a map of independent retailers, highlighting what's on offer. It has also initiated ‘access audits’ to help disabled shoppers and ensured that stores are dog-friendly.
Lindsey Myers, of Love Belper, said: “We are honoured to be named champion high street. Thanks to the awards and Visa for putting us on the map.
“It is undoubtedly the commitment, hard work, dedication and drive of the whole community of Belper that helped us to win this.”
Belper received its award from High Streets Minister Jake Berry at a ceremony in Edinburgh.
Mr Berry said: “Every place has its unique strengths and challenges, but all our town centres and high streets have one thing in common -- they are the beating hearts of our communities.”