A NEW butcher’s shop is expected to open in Haltwhistle later this month, just weeks after the previous owners moved out.

The town was rocked by the news that its branch of WMH Farm Fresh Meats had closed. It was the fourth shop closure in the town in the space of a month, along with the Something Special gift shop, Atlas Technical Computer Services and the Streetwise pound shop.

It was a big blow to the town and left residents and business owners concerned for the future of retail in Haltwhistle, believing the closures could deter people from visiting the area.

But Paul Baugh, who has been a butcher for 20 years, is relishing the opportunity to take over the former WMH store and opening it as Haltwhistle Butchers.

Paul said: “I’m absolutely buzzing to be opening my own business. We will be providing good quality meat and produce as well as a bringing a friendly and local service back to Haltwhistle.”

After seeking help from a business advisor to ensure the start-up went smoothly, he said opening the business on his own was “daunting, but a really exciting prospect.”

Paul added: “There was a lot of cleaning to be done and we still need to get the signage up, but we’re hoping to be open by the end of this month.”

It was also confirmed that the Something Special shop is to reopen as an arts and crafts shop.

Haltwhistle town councillors refuted claims that the high street was dying at its most recent meeting.

Chairman of the town council, Coun. Alan Sharp, said: “You have to accept that people retire and move on, but I have been told that the units have been taken over.

“I hope everyone can get behind the new local shops. The town is not a ghost town.”