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SWT cash boost to support town centres
15 July 2020 : Council news, Business
SWT has announced a £500,000 cash boost to support town centres as part of its commitment to recovery, investment, jobs and opportunity.
Backing our town centres is the key focus of the new special fund launched by SWT to support, rebuild and transform our High Streets and surrounding areas.
The half-a-million-pound investment will help the centres of Taunton, Minehead and Wellington through the most challenging time in their history with a programme of emergency measures designed to aid these vital social and economic hubs.
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of SWT: “This council has a track record of delivery and we must deliver real change for our town centres. How we place them back at the heart of our communities will be key to the future prosperity of our whole area.
“Covid-19 has introduced us all to a different way of life. As so much of the world stopped, we took time to reflect. We could ask ourselves if we could take some good from this terrible pandemic.
“We are now faced with a potentially very serious recession, accelerating the problems so many of our retail and hospitality sectors already faced. We now have a once in a generation opportunity to decide how we move forward, because now we have no choice but to take that opportunity.”
In the short-term, the money will be put towards freshening up our town centres, keeping them clean, tidy and attractive. It will help secure jobs and livelihoods following on from the millions already invested in cash, advice and business support during the Covid-19 crisis.
Virtual “Town Hall” meetings will ask businesses and residents how our High Streets could look in the future.
Cllr Marcus Kravis, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development: “Places
are still defined by their town centres. They can drive good public health, community cohesion, great transport and connectivity.
Before the coronavirus struck, 47% of retail businesses across the UK were at significant risk of failure. We know that without the millions of pounds made available to our local companies many would have gone under in the past four months.
For so much of our lifetimes’ town centres were places of opportunity and they still can be. But shopping is just one opportunity.
As well as short-term measures we know we have to act now to secure the future for our town centres.
The conversation we’re starting now with our business and communities is how and where we invest in the longer-term. How they should look and the role they can play in our future will form the foundation of our conversation with the people of SWT.”
SWT is working with Taunton Chamber of Commerce, Minehead BID, Minehead Town Council and Wellington Town Council to understand what it can do to help town centre businesses fully recover and grow back stronger from the impact of COVID-19.
A series of webinars are being held next week to give local businesses, members of the community, shoppers and visitors a chance to share their ideas and views on what our high streets should look like, what type of ‘offer’ they should have for businesses, shoppers, visitors and residents post COVID-19; and what businesses need in order to adapt, recover and flourish post COVID-19.
The webinars will focus on two discussions -
• What do businesses and the Town Centre need to help them to stay open urgently in the next 12 months?
• Reimaging Our High Street - How should the high street be shaped, what it should look like, what its offer should be in the future?
Places can be booked using the Eventbrite links - joining instructions will be sent nearer the time:
Wellington (7pm, 21 July)
Minehead (7pm, 22 July)
Taunton (6.30pm, 23 July)
As well as feedback from the three main town centres, SWT is also keen to hear from neighbourhood retail centres in Wiveliscombe, Watchet, Williton, Dulverton, Dunster and Porlock.
If you are unable to make these events and have any views that you would like to share with us please email them to us at Openinghighstreets@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk