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High Streets

 

LUDLOW Town Council and other local bodies were awarded £20,000 of funding by Shropshire Council in August to support tourism and assist the town’s recovery during the pandemic. The Love Ludlow project was led by the town council, the local chamber of trade and Ludlow Destination Partnership.
The initiative encouraged safe exploration of Ludlow’s shops, cafes, restaurants and heritage attractions, including Ludlow Castle. Banners, posters and social media helped to communicate the core message that the town was open for business.
It is continuing in the run-up to Christmas, with a message of shop local, eat local and stay local. The town’s market will be trading seven days a week in December, including local produce and antiques markets. There will be Xmas gift markets on 28 and 29 November, and other festive markets including Tinsel Tuesdays.
There will be no Xmas lights switch-on event this year, but lights will be in place by the end of November. Senior citizens are one of the council’s priorities, and it will deliver free festive gift bags with snacks, decorations and tipples at the beginning of December. The bags will also contain Xmas drawings by local children.

Clerks & Councils Direct, November 2020

Wisbech_MarketPlace_Sep20

MARKET BID SUCCESS
WISBECH
Town Council has successfully submitted a bid for £150,000 to the Cambridgeshire Communities Capital Fund with the aim of regenerating the town’s Market Place. The fund was launched on 1 April by Cambridgeshire County Council, with up to £5 million set aside to support community projects. The town council will match fund the award with £50,000.

The project aims to improve the appearance of the Market Place and its facilities to enhance it as a trading area and a community space. One key aspect is to develop a pedestrianised zone that will operate between 7am and 4pm, with new seating and bins, water features and other enhancements. The next step for the council is to finalise designs with its civil engineers and to obtain quotations for the work.

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2020

Marlow_HighStreet_Jul20

COUNCILS PREPARE TO REOPEN THEIR TOWN CENTRES
AS lockdown began to ease from mid-June, councils were hard at work planning how to safely reopen for business without risking a second surge of coronavirus.

Preparations for the safe opening of its town centre (pictured) were well under way, according to MARLOW Town Council. In cooperation with Transport for Buckinghamshire, the council has installed additional pedestrian crossing points and “20 is Plenty” signage to encourage drivers to slow down. It has suspended parking bays for new bike racks and to allow pedestrians to pass on pavements that are too narrow for safe social distancing.
It has also introduced an advisory one-way system for pedestrians, with prominent signage and directional stickers on pavements. Council leader Jocelyn Towns said: “This is a voluntary scheme, but we are putting our faith in people to respect it. The system should greatly reduce the risks of people being forced to get too close.”
In nearby BUCKINGHAM, the town council has developed a guidance pack for shops and services to help them trade safely. It contains information about adapting premises to facilitate social distancing and explains plans to reopen markets and public spaces.
The Economic Development Working Group has been exploring ideas such as extending free parking, providing outdoor tables and chairs and supporting businesses to trade or promote themselves online. It is also considering the idea of an online shopping platform and home delivery service, based on the successful model used by Princes Risborough.
SHAFTESBURY in Dorset is planning to temporarily pedestrianise its high street. A project team has been set up including councillors, members of the Chamber of Commerce, business owners and officers from Dorset Council.
Issues being considered include disabled parking and temporary bus stops, vehicle flow, signage and general parking provision. Delivery vehicles will be permitted one-way access via a manned barrier, and arrangements will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2020

 TOWN CENTRE PLAN GOES OUT TO TENDER
A NEW masterplan is to be drawn up for the future development of OSWESTRY town centre. It will set out how the Shropshire town will evolve over the coming years to meet its ambitions for better transport, connectivity, sustainability and business opportunities.
The plan will build on the work of the Future Oswestry Group, a partnership between Oswestry Town Council, Shropshire Council and Oswestry Business Improvement District (BID). The group has published a tender, inviting specialist companies to bid to produce the plan.It will provide a framework for sustainable development and will support the town’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. It will also set out goals for repurposing empty buildings and the treatment of public spaces, as well as advising on transport, traffic and car parking management.
The town’s mayor, Cllr John Price, said: “While the work of the Future Oswestry Group is not always visible, the working relationship between the three parties is beginning to see some tangible results. At the moment it is difficult to look forward, but it is very important that we do so. Having a well described vision, ideas for development and a plan is essential in order to attract funding.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2020

 

 RECENTLY the Vale of Glamorgan Council (VoG) was granted a large sum of money as economic stimulus funding to inject into local towns and communities to promote high streets, and our town council was asked to look at projects it wished to pursue with a view to tapping into the funding.
One project the council was very keen to progress was refurbishment of the Old Hall, which is located on the High Street but is in the ownership of the local authority (VoG). The idea was that the town council would carry out the work and then pass back responsibility for upkeep to VoG, in joint enterprise.
However, following discussions, VoG decided that it would pursue the project itself, as it agreed that the building was in a very poor state of repair and a visual eyesore. The money for the project would come from the same economic stimulus funding pot.
The project has now been costed and VoG has found that it is falling short by approximately £4,000, and it has asked the town council to contribute the £4,000 to enable the project to be completed.
Some councillors have suggested that it would be illegal for us to contribute money to the local authority because a) the town council would be drawing down a precept and then giving money back to the local authority to improve a building that was in its ownership and b) that having set the precept, the town council cannot take money from its reserves to support this project.
I was of the opinion that as long as the town council agreed to take money from reserves for a community project that would not be a problem. However, I was not completely sure about it giving money to a local authority for the refurbishment of its own building (which is used for community purposes and is self-funding through hire to local groups).
I would be very grateful if you could advise on this matter or point me in the right direction on the necessary legislation.

Ceri John, Clerk, COWBRIDGE (Ancient Borough) with Llanblethian Town Council, Vale of Glamorgan

Editor’s note: In this case the council managed to resolve the problem by transferring some of the grant money for another project to the Old Hall, which has enabled the whole of the project to go ahead. However, it would still be interested for future reference to know whether if it is able to fund a project with the local authority as a joint enterprise: have any other councils had experience of this, or of the other situations described here?

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2020

TREORCHY TRIUMPHS BY SHOPPING LOCAL

TREORCHY in Rhondda Cynon Taf won the High Street of the Year Award for 2019, beating many bigger rivals in the nationwide competition. The town is home to just 6,000 people, but it impressed the judges in the Great British High Street competition with its many community initiatives, which have helped to breath life into a struggling local economy. The Welsh valleys town has its own website, an arts festival and a “hop, shop and save” scheme that trades advertising space on local buses for in-store discounts. Membership of the Treorchy Chamber of Trade has grown from 30 to 120 in recent years, and 80 per cent of the shops on the high street are independent. Adrian Emmett, who runs The Lion pub, said: “In our area there is not much industry and times are tough, but in the face of adversity we have come up with an entrepreneurial model. There are areas that have received a lot more funding than us – this is about self-help. If the community didn’t shop local, we wouldn’t be here.” The awards recognise communities leading the way in reinventing their local high streets, and are a partnership with payments firm Visa, which funds the £15,000 top prize. Other champion award winners were Belper, Newtownards and Prestwick. Kelso in Scotland was named Rising Star of the Year, with Yarm, Caernarfon and Newry also winning regional categories. The awards are set against a backdrop of decline in traditional high streets as shopping habits continue to change. Last year was one of the most challenging on record, with over 140,000 jobs lost due to retail failures and store closures.

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2020

 



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