MP welcomes high street development plan

FYLDE MP Mark Menzies today welcomed news that businesses will be at the heart of Fylde’s £100,000 programme to revitalise town centres.

Traders, firms and community groups are being invited to bid for a grant from the £100,000 pot – so long as their project is designed to increase town-centre business activity.

The Government awarded Fylde the £100,000 High Street Innovation Fund (HSIF) pot last year after retail queen Mary Portas bemoaned the sluggish state of the nation’s town centres.

In Fylde, councillors are devolving control of the money to business people themselves with membership being comprised of representatives from Kirkham and Wesham Business Group; Lytham Business Partnership and St Annes Chamber of Trade. Fylde Council, Kirkham Town Council and St Annes Town Council will also be represented.

The new scheme comes after Mr Menzies secured a £10,000 Government grant for the development of Kirkham’s high street last year.

Commenting, the Member of Parliament said: “It is great to see that people from Fylde’s thriving business community will be the ones who decide how this money is best spent.

“They are the ones who work on our high streets on a day to day basis and are in an unbeatable position to decide where this cash goes.

“I would encourage anyone with an idea of how we can improve our communities to enter a bid and they may be one of the lucky ones who receives the funding to bring that idea to life.”

Fylde’s HSIF panel will meet quarterly – the first meeting will be in June – to decide which bids to back.
There is no minimum or maximum limit for bids, although bidders must “match fund” the grant on a pound for pound basis.

Volunteer time towards the project can be considered as match funding.

Fylde Council leader Coun David Eaves added: “We’re putting businesspeople from every corner of Fylde in charge. They, and the council representatives, will form a panel to which individual businesses and groups can bid for financial support.

“The criteria are very broad. It could be training support for a particular business or it could be a more general improvement scheme that will make the town centres more attractive and, as a result, attract more people to visit.

“It could be money for marketing help or it could even be advertising out of the area to attract people here. Businesses know better than councillors what they need – practical experience is always the best way ahead.”

Cllr Elaine Silverwood, representing Kirkham and Wesham Business Group on the new panel and herself a shop owner, said: “Businesses know every inch of the high street and know exactly what is needed for their area.

“The money is now in place and I would urge town centre businesses to make their bid for it. It is now up to them to make strong bids that offer long-term value for the town centres.”

Andrew Fallow, representing Lytham Business Partnership on the panel, added: “This is a great opportunity to start some good projects in town centres in every part of Fylde.

“We can make a relatively small amount of money go a long way if good projects come through. If they have a long-term legacy, so much the better.

“This could be about direct help for businesses or wider help to improve the town centre environment to increase the vibrancy of the town centre. This is a win-win opportunity and we must not miss out.”

Representing St Annes Chamber of Trade, John Moxham added: “The chamber has been promoting this idea for some time already and I’m sure funding bids will come in thick and fast.

“We have made the process as simple and transparent as possible, so that businesses, community groups and individuals can secure money for the best projects.”

Details of Fylde’s HSIF project and information on how to apply for a grant can be seen at: www.fylde.gov.uk/hsif

The HSIF panel which will decide grant applications will meet on:

- Wednesday 5 June, 6.30pm. Closing date for grant applications 29 May

- Wednesday 4 September, 6.30pm. Closing date for grant applications 18 August

- Wednesday 4 December, 6.30pm. Closing date for grant applications 17 November.

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