Posted: 25.05.20 at 09:38 by Philip Evans
COMMUNITY leaders have welcome news that the government has set up a new £50million fund to support local high streets which have been decimated by coronavirus.
East Devon District Council will receive £130,000 and Cllr Andrew Moulding has assured traders that he will fight for Axminster to get its fair share.
Cllr Moulding, lead member for Rural Economy at EDDC and Leader of EDDC Conservatives, said: “This funding will help put measures in place to enable our local shops which have been invaluable throughout the COVID-19 crisis to open up fully and safely again.
“I will be lobbying EDDC chief executive Mark Williams to make sure the money is used fairly and equally across East Devon and that Axminster, which has its own unique high street challenges, is given full consideration."
To prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail when the scientific advice allows, the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops.
It will also support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers. This will help get businesses get ready for when they can begin trading safely, not only in high streets and town and city centres, but also in other public spaces like beachfronts and promenades.
Councils will also be able to use this money to develop local marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public and reassure them that their high streets and other commercial areas are safe.
It is the government’s ambition to reopen non-essential retail in a phased way from June 1, subject to the scientific advice. The government will set out further detail on how and when these can reopen safely shortly.
The government recognises high streets are critical to the economic recovery of towns and cities and this new fund builds on longer-term funds already in place to support their revival and boost their economic fortunes including the Future High Streets and Towns Funds.
High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “As we begin to slowly return to normality, the re-opening our high streets will be key to kick-starting our economic recovery.
“Levelling up the regions and supporting our high streets has always been central to the mission of this government.
“Many businesses have already introduced creative ways of trading such as contactless collection or taking orders by instant messaging and shows that they are ready for the challenges ahead.
“That’s why we are providing an extra £50million for councils to support a range of safety measures that will help get these businesses back on track and ensure that people can enjoy their time visiting their local high street safely again.”
Today’s £50million funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that the government is making available to councils to support businesses to re-open safely following guidance published on 13 May to help adapt urban centres and green spaces for social distancing during the pandemic.
The money will be allocated to councils on a per capita basis and will be ready to spend from June 1.
The fund is in addition to the £3.2billion package of support announced for councils to help them deal with the immediate pressures they have said they are facing.