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CHESTERFIELD Borough Council in Derbyshire has received nearly £20 million of Levelling Up funding from the government to transform the town centre. The funding, which the council has matched with £6 million of investment, will underpin its Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield improvement plan.
The plan was outlined by Dr Huw Bowen, the council’s chief executive, at the annual Celebrate Chesterfield event on 23 March. Now in its twelfth year, the event was organised by Destination Chesterfield in association with the University of Derby, and was attended by around 250 delegates.
According to Dr Bowen, the improvement plan will increase land value in the town centre by 16 per cent and shop occupancy levels to more than 90 per cent, resulting in increased spending which will support the creation of around 100 new jobs.
It will see key spaces regenerated and reimagined, including refurbishment and remodelling of the George Stephenson Memorial Hall to bring together a theatre, cinema, bar, cafe and exhibition space. There will also be a new lighting strategy and greater data connectivity to enable digital way finding, smart street lighting, predictive maintenance and environmental monitoring.
Cllr Tricia Gilby, leader of the council, said: “Alongside regeneration projects and new developments, the council is invested in supporting the future of young people and local residents. We want better jobs and more jobs for local people. Our local labour clauses in contracts have created more than 800 local jobs in the last year alone, with many of them being apprenticeships.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2022

KIRKLEES Council in West Yorkshire launched a campaign in mid-November entitled “Bye Bye Clickmas, Hello Christmas” to encourage people to shop local. It released a series of short films featuring residents and businesses and showcasing retail, dining and leisure on offer locally. Cllr Eric Firth said: “There were lots of things missing from the Christmas festivities last year. It is difficult to get that magic feeling shopping online, so we want to encourage residents and visitors to visit our shops, restaurants, bars and parks. I would remind people to be kind to each other so that everyone can safely enjoy some festive fun.” The district council supported a line-up of festive events, including carol singing, Santa trails, light switch-ons, pantos and grottos. A highlight was the Kirklees Concert Season, which included concerts by the University of Huddersfield Brass Band and the Huddersfield Youth Choir and several performances by Opera North.

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2022



SHERBORNE Town Council has released a new video aimed at promoting the Dorset town as a place to visit. The two-minute Visit Sherborne video showcases local businesses and attractions such as the town’s abbey and castles, with contributions from residents. It was funded by Dorset Council’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund and aims to encourage tourism, despite the closure of the town’s Tourist Information Centre earlier in the year. Town clerk Steve Shield said: “We worked closely with G&T Productions to put together a film that summarises the reasons to visit our beautiful, historic town, as well as encourage shoppers back to the high street. Judging by the positive feedback we have received, the town is very happy with the result.” The video is available via the council’s social media pages and has reached nearly 20,000 people, been shared over 100 times and received hundreds of positive comments.

Clerks & Councils Direct November 2021



SHAFTESBURY Town Council has submitted a request to Dorset Council to investigate the feasibility of a permanent pedestrianisation priority scheme, following a positive reception for temporary measures following lockdown. A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) was introduced in June 2020 to enable the High Street to reopen safely as part of the Covid-19 recovery process. Narrow pavements made it impossible to keep to government guidelines on two metres social distancing, and so temporary pedestrianisation was introduced to facilitate public safety. Surveys of businesses and shoppers showed positive feedback, with 83 per cent of shop owners saying in May 2021 that it was having a positive effect on their business. However, when Step 4 of the government’s roadmap is implemented and social distancing restrictions are lifted (currently planned for 19 July), the High Street will revert back to traffic. The town council has submitted an application to temporarily close the street on Thursdays until 2pm to allow a newly introduced street market to continue over the summer. If approved, this scheme would need to be managed separately, as TROs have clear legislative conditions and consultations can take 12–18 months to complete. Cllr Piers Brown, lead member for economic development, said: “Temporary pedestrianisation has been a great success, helping our shops through an extremely difficult trading year. With 86 per cent of shoppers and 84 per cent of businesses supporting pedestrianisation becoming permanent, I hope Dorset Council will accept our application so the High Street can continue to flourish.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2021

Plans for the second-phase redevelopment of NEWARK’s historic Buttermarket building are progressing, with all units on the first floor now occupied. Phase two will cover the upper floor of the shopping centre in the Nottinghamshire town. Plans were outlined in February at a meeting of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s economic development committee. Planning approval is not required for the second phase, but the schedule of works must be checked by the council’s conservation team to ensure that listed building consent is not required. The district council joined with Newark Town Council to buy the struggling centre, which links the Market Place and Middlegate, for £800,000 before it went to auction. It forms an important part of plans to regenerate the town centre.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2021


MOLD Town Council in Flintshire has launched a new website to provide information and promote local businesses (www.totallymold. Business listings are free of charge, and there are plans to add a “What’s on” guide to the site. In response to the pandemic, the council has also developed the Totally Mold voucher scheme. Vouchers are sold in denominations of £5 and can be spent at more than 70 participating businesses. They are valid until 30 June, and to date almost £12,000 worth have been sold. The mayor, Cllr Teresa Carberry, said: “The town council recognised the massive challenges businesses face at this time. This initiative has been a tremendous success; as a council, we want to encourage people to stay and shop within the town.” Mold has fared better than many towns during lockdown, with seven businesses closing in 2020 but also 22 new or expanded ones. Business and regeneration officer Joanna Douglass said: “Many businesses have developed websites or provided click and collect services, set up virtually overnight, to help their customers. It has never been more important to shop local, keeping our towns vibrant and providing a boost to the local economy.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2021



MARLOW Town Council in Buckinghamshire celebrated the easing of lockdown and the reopening of shops from 12 April by putting up bunting across the town centre and offering free parking until 11 May. The mayor, Cllr Richard Scott, said: “This is a small celebration of another milestone being achieved – and a bright and cheery welcome back for shoppers.” From 12 April the government allowed the reopening of retail, outdoor hospitality and attractions, personal care, indoor leisure including gyms, libraries and community centres, self-contained accommodation, children’s activities and indoor parent and child groups.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2021


HRH the Earl of Wessex visited NEWBURY Market in early December to show his support during the Covid-19 pandemic. The market was open every Thursday and Saturday throughout 2020 (for essential items only during lockdown periods), and welcomed back traders for Christmas shopping. The market manager, Debbie Smith, and Cllr Elizabeth O’Keeffe, mayor of the Berkshire town, accompanied Prince Edward as he met traders. Cllr O’Keeffe said: “We are extremely proud of our market and were delighted to welcome HRH. It's been an especially difficult year for everyone, but the market traders have continued to come along in all weathers.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2021

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


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


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

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 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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