LEEK has been praised by a Government minister for its wide variety of shops.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Brandon Lewis, visited the town last week.
The minister is responsible for local government; fire and resilience; high streets; town centres and markets; travellers; and community pubs.
He was accompanied on a tour of Leek town centre by Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Sybil Ralphs and Totally Locally members Marc Briand and Chris Sands. Mr Lewis, was chairman of judges for the Daily Telegraph 2013 High Street of the Year Award, in which Leek was the runner-up.
He said: "I feel Leek is a really good market town.
"It has a good mix of high street names and very good independent shops.
"Presently the average shops closed in high streets across the country is 11 per cent.
"Leek as only three per cent which is a great credit to the town.
"High streets are still the quickest way to increase jobs and are ideal for younger people as it gives them customer service skills."
Mrs Bradley said: "I was delighted to introduce the minister to some of our local businesses that help make Leek such a vibrant and busy place, and who helped the town win second place in the High Street of the year competition, of which Brandon was a judge.
"Because he is also the fire minister I wanted to show him the excellent support that Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service provides in our rural areas so I was pleased that we could go to Ipstones."
Councillor Sybil Ralphs said: "I am really pleased that Brandon Lewis continues to show an interest in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
"He was very complimentary about the work we are doing and was eager to meet as many traders as possible."
Founder of Totally Locally, Chris Sands, who lives near Halifax, said that there were now between 60 and 70 towns focusing on the initiative.
He said: "Totally Locally is now spreading around the world and there are already 20 in Australia, and we are starting them in America.
"While in Australia I used Leek as one of the case studies.
"Totally Locally has shown what can be achieved with the right people. Leek is doing well and has grown in confidence."
Leek-based Totally Locally member Marc Briand said the minister had visited the town following its success in the high street awards.
He is currently spearheading a Totally Locally scheme in nearby Cheadle.
Mr Briand said: "The monthly Totally Locally market is doing well and it is great to see people supporting it. The idea is about getting people's produce in the town.
"People want character and independent shops in a town which Leek can offer visitors."