IT’S not every day that an historic Northumberland market town like Hexham is given the chance of two huge economic boosts within 24 hours.

First came the announcement that Beales, formerly Robbs, would only be closing its doors temporarily after the spectre of its complete closure had loomed over the town, and its surrounding communities, for months.

In a dramatic u-turn, it was revealed by bosses at Beales that the closure will now only be temporary while a smaller section of the department store on the corner of Fore Street is reorganised to retain a number of profitable concessions and the town’s only post office.

The change of heart follows the store reaching an agreement with the landlord and Northumberland County Council and will reduce the number of job losses, which were set to come as a hammer blow to local people, at the end of the month.

Robbs, and now Beales, has been part of the fabric of the town’s high street for generations and the news that it will remain so, albeit in a smaller form, has quite rightly been widely welcomed.

Couple this announcement with confirmation that Hexham is one of 69 high streets in England chosen to be part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme, and it made the hours between last Friday afternoon and Saturday morning an unprecedented time of good economic news.

A bid submitted earlier this year has been successful and has won Hexham a £2.4m share of a £95m cash injection from central government.

And while the details of how the money will be used are yet to be confirmed, anything which can be used to improve the fabric of some of the key buildings, to lift the experience for shoppers and visitors, must be applauded.

We can only hope this is the first step in achieving the economic boost for Hexham that the community so richly deserves.