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Last bastion of traditional high street struggles against influx of chain stores

Mill Road in Cambridge trying to maintain its independent shops against an influx of chains. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mill Road in Cambridge is one of the last bastions of independence in the High Street.

It has an eclectic mix of retailers, proudly trying to keep the big players at bay.

But there's concern an influx of chains and multinationals could spoil the character of this bohemian borough.

There are more than 20,000 independent shops in the East of England. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There are currently 20,375 independent stores across the Eastern region. In the last 12 months 2,133 have opened while 2,241 have closed.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

Battle to keep rural banks as hundreds set to close

Bank customers at HSBC in Reepham queue for the cash machine. Credit: Natalie Gray / ITV News Anglia

The 3,000 residents of Reepham in Norfolk will have nowhere to bank from October when HSBC closes its doors.

The soaring popularity of digital banking both online and on smart phones is being blamed.

More than 500 bank branches are expected to disappear from Britain's high streets in 2015 forcing residents of many communities to travel miles to their nearest bank.

The major lenders seem to have ditched a commitment to keep open 'the last bank in town', putting almost 900 branches in smaller towns and villages at risk of closure too.

Traders warn it'll be the death of the market town if the town's only bank and cash point goes. And elderly residents say they can't get to the nearest HSBC branch in Dereham 11 miles away.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray


New moves to try and help struggling oil and gas industry

There's been new moves to try and help the struggling oil and gas industry on the East coast.

Great Yarmouth has been badly hit by the dramatic fall in oil prices. Workers have been laid off and one local firm went into administration last week, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Now, a working party's being set up to try and help firms who're struggling.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Malcolm Robertson


Six months away but which Christmas toys are going to be big this year?

It's just six months exactly or 183 days until Christmas Day. Credit: ITV News

Not wanting to wish away the summer but it's just six months exactly or 183 days until Christmas Day and High Street stores are already looking at what will be big this festive period.

None more so than toy shops which do most of their trade over the winter months.

From a new look Tracey Island from Thunderbirds to yet more Disney Frozen toys, Christmas lists are already being written.

So which toys are expected to dominate the market this year?

Click below to find out by watching a report by David Wood

Bedfordshire giftwrap company sees 21% rise in profits

Profits rise at International Greetings, the company which owns Tom Smith crackers. Credit: Tom Smith

Bedfordshire-based gift packaging, cards and stationery group International Greetings has reported a 21% rise in underlying pre-tax profits.

Profits for the year to March were up to £9.2 million with sales up 2% at £229 million. The company, which produces the Tom Smith Christmas Crackers, sold record levels of gift packaging and greetings-related products worldwide.

The firm, based in Eversholt between Luton and Milton Keynes, added it was on track to deliver double-digit earnings growth.

Business is booming: Signs the region's economy is recovering fast

There are signs that the recovery in our region's economy is gathering pace with turnover, salaries and job numbers all increasing.

Some of the top companies in our part of the region are reporting growth in excess of 10%.

Despite the good news there are still concerns that the apparent boom could stall again.

Click below to watch a report from Matthew Hudson...

Bedfordshire companies see dramatic rise in annual turnover

Charles Wells in Bedfordshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The top 100 companies in Bedfordshire saw their annual turnover increase by £4 billion in the last year, according to a new report.

Businesses in the county contributed to an annual growth of more than 10%, and an increase in profits of £309 million.

"We have to continue to develop and we've done that over time - we've invested in both our people and our brands.

Just because it's tough our there, you can't just sort of rein everything in - you've got to look to continue to develop."

– Anthony Fryer, Charles Wells
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