Local businesspeople heard that Devizes is in better economic shape than larger towns in the South West.

At a business reception event in the town hall organised by the Devizes Community Area Partnership last month, dozens of traders were told the results of the latest “benchmarking” survey, which compares Devizes with similar towns across the region and the country.

James Brandon said Devizes has 277 business units in the town centre, which puts it on the same level as much larger towns. With a vacancy rate of just five per cent, it has half the number of empty shops than the national average, though it is slightly higher than the previous year.

Some 72 per cent of businesses have been trading for more than ten years, 46 per cent of businesses reported increased turnover, though only 36 per cent said they were more profitable than this time last year.

The town has won a gold award in the South West in Bloom competition three years running and the Christmas festival in November attracted thousands of people to the town.

The CCTV system had virtually wiped out the plague of broken windows and anti-social behaviour in the town.