“Andover’s got all the elements to be a really buzzing town centre.”

Those are the words of cabinet minister James Cleverly who paid a visit to the town on Friday morning.

The co-chairman of the Conservative party came to Andover for what he describes as “a mix of personal and professional” reasons.

He says as well as taking the opportunity to catch up with the leader of the borough council, and his long-time friend, Councillor Phil North, it was a chance for him “to talk through the plans” for Andover’s town centre.

Those plans include the creation of the new cultural quarter, the redevelopment of the Chantry Centre as well as the Town Mills rejuvenation project.

But Mr Cleverly says he sees plenty of potential in the area already.

“You’ve got these lovely Georgian buildings,” he said.

“And I can see that Andover’s got all the elements to be a really buzzing town centre.

“You’ve got some nice open space you’ve got a real opportunity to renew and refurbish the shopping centre, but the physical structure of the town has got some real opportunity.”

“I think with a bit of money – and the council’s putting its money where its mouth is – a bit of imagination and a bit of time I can see this really turning around.”

Mr Cleverly visited a number of local spots on his tour of the town, including businesses such as the Travelling Cupcake, David Mellor Jewellers and Coffee #1.

He also weighed in with his own words of advice after what has been a dramatic week in local politics.

Mr Cleverly echoed Cllr North's comments in which the leader of the council urged "bickering" town councillors to work together.

He added: “I’m not aware of the details so I can’t comment on the specific details, but in general I think politicians at whatever level are at their most effective when the look to provide solutions and make a difference rather than rowing about allocating blame.

“And we see this at the national level at the moment where we’ve got an opportunity now to move on from the rows that we’ve seen in Westminster for the last three years and start really delivering for British people.

“So my only observation is that those rules apply pretty much at every level of politics. Focus on the future, focus on delivering for your local people.”

He added: “If politicians at all levels – parish, local council, national politics –if we stay focused on the priorities of the people we serve, you won’t go far wrong.”