Close to my Herts: Murray Fastier

Baldock's town centre manager, Murray Fastier, tels Louise McEvoy what he loves about the town...

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am from New Zealand and have lived in Baldock since 2001 with my partner Lisa and our three-year-old daughter Lilly, our dog Tiki and two chickens.

Prior to becoming Baldock’s town centre manager I was operations manager for a large multi-national freight forwarding company.

I love sports and play golf, cricket and occasionally football and rugby.    

How long have you been Baldock’s town centre manager and what do you most enjoy about your job?

I started in December 2009. The best thing about the role is the diversity it brings. I am rarely doing the same thing from day to day and the people I deal with are all positive about my goals.

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‘I really like the attitude of the Baldock people. We are a mid-sized town with the feel of a small village’

My remit is basically to promote Baldock businesses and increase the footfall into the town centre.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

There are many challenges in this role. There are the overall financial issues that everyone is facing, and we have also assumed the running of the Wednesday charter market this year and keeping that going and increasing stall numbers has been difficult. It is an on-going challenge. We have some great new traders there, along with the old favourites, and need to ensure that people are aware of that and come out to use it.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in your role so far?

There is no single achievement I can focus on, but more the overall improvement of events in the town centre. Prior to my appointment there were three to four events held a year, now we have got a full calendar of events with over 25 different things to see and do.

We started up a great farmers’ and craft market, which now goes ahead on the second Saturday of the month; we have held two very successful Big Lunch celebrations on the High Street, along with the Baldock Day and Christmas fair celebrations. We have also started a Breakfast Network Group for local businesses. We meet every second Tuesday at Zeus Hotel and in a few short months it has become an excellent vehicle for continued local business activity.    

What do you most like about the town?

I really like the attitude of the Baldock people. We are a mid-sized town with the feel of a small village. People are excellent and positive about events we run - they turn out brilliantly to support them. I also like the fact that we have a host of small independent retailers who are not being overrun by national chains - we have a great art gallery on Hitchin Street, an excellent hardware shop and electrical retailer. The street enhancements completed a few years ago have also meant Baldock has developed a caf� culture, with two excellent coffee shops, one hotel and a pub in the town centre all with tables and chairs outside, creating a fantastic atmosphere in the town centre.

Are there any events coming up in Baldock?

The Christmas fair weekend is back again on the first weekend in December. We will have an ice rink, fair rides and entertainment for children, a large Christmas-themed fair with 20 plus stalls, live music and food all on the High Street.

Next year we are planning a Baldock half-marathon, probably in late February, early March. It should be a great event for Baldock.

How do you like to spend a day off?

With Lisa and Lilly.

Describe yourself in three words.

Friendly, positive and enthusiastic.

Where is your favourite place in Hertfordshire and why?

Apart from Baldock, of course, I love taking the dog up by Therfield Downs. There are fantastic views over the countryside from the woods.