THE sunny weather has seen a boost in coaches, trade and tourism in Ledbury.

While it's still a mixed picture, and hard figures are still to be compiled, the town seems to be finally setting the recession far behind it, to move into more prosperous times; and sunshine and more tourists may be the key factors.

Dave Waller, the award-winning Homend butcher, is celebrating a barbecue bonus, with the sunshine boost making "one heck of a difference" to trade.

He said: "Good weather always helps, and it's helping me. Food for barbecues always goes better when there are no wet summer days.

"There are lots more people in the town, more tourists, out and about; and Ledbury is such a nice place to visit when the sun shines."

Homend jeweller Annette Crowe, of Past and Present said: "We seem to have lots more coaches coming into the town, which is a good thing. In fact, over the past year, things have been picking up.

"But, for us, the trade actually went down when it was really hot, like the Sahara; and, on the first cooler day, people came streaming back in."

Martin Eager, who along with his mother, Margaret, set up the Homend Shopping Mall, said the mall was "doing well" this summer, with footfall up.

"We're very pleased," he said.

He added: "I do think the town, generally, is doing quite well, although people still have to tighten their belts a bit."

But Mr Eager, who is a town councillor and a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, has noticed, if anything, fewer tourists coming in to the centre this year.

He said: "I have not checked the figures for the Heritage Centre, but I think numbers are probably down a bit."

This may indicate that it is the motorists, not members of coach parties, who are most likely to visit the centre.

Mr Eager said one reason for the drop may be the poor signage to the town's car parks.

He said: "We don't have sufficient signage for visitors to find the car parks and to keep people in Ledbury longer. Visitors park on the street for one hour or so, then they'll move on.

"I know this for a fact, because they tell me, at the Heritage Centre."