A Malvern think tank says the town is looking run down - but traders say the town is thriving.

High Street Malvern, which is focussed on the economic development of the town, reckons Church Street and Worcester Road in particular are in need of sprucing up.

But the town's independent retailers have sprung to Malvern's defence. And the district council says grants to improve shop fronts will soon be available to traders.

Roger Sutton, who sits on the group’s committee, said: “Take a walk around town and you’ll see broken paving slabs, utility covers not put back properly, shop fronts not painted, alleyways full of weeds and looking generally unkempt.

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“It’s not an easy problem to fix but there’s been no effort by councils to improve anything.

“We walked around town six years ago and took pictures of 85 different problems - and nothing’s been done.

“We’ve got to smarten the town up a bit. If the council led the way, shopkeepers would follow. It just needs a bit of TLC.”

Anna Brook, who owns Iapetus Gallery in Belle Vue Terrace, said: “Go around the country and look at other towns, then come back and look at Great Malvern.

“We are full of independent businesses and empty shops tend to be filled very quickly.

'Malvern is a great place to trade'

“There are lots of new businesses opening, such as Crew Clothing. Malvern has a vibrant town centre and is a great place to trade.

“The past three years have been difficult for all businesses - if you want us to put up hanging baskets or paint the outside of the shop, we’d welcome the cash injection.”

Artist Kate Rees runs Kate Modern in Graham Street, off Church Street. She said it was “giddy” that Crew Clothing was coming to the town.

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“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Malvern - it’s just the way the world is going,” she said. “I went to Cheltenham the other day and it just felt sad.

“I’m happy here. I could do with a few more customers coming in but it is January.”

Cllr Daniel Walton, portfolio holder for tourism and economic development at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “As part of our town centre plans, we will be launching a district-wide town centre support grant for traders and landlords to improve their shopfronts using UK Shared Prosperity Funding.

“With regards to street cleaning issues, we encourage residents to report it online via the council website so they can be dealt with as soon as possible.”