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Calls for £4m cash pot to help struggling town centres

Calls for £4m cash pot to help struggling town centres

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 12:45pm 30th January 2020. (Updated at 4:18pm 30th January 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have called for a new pot of money to be created to fund projects which could help struggling town centres.

Members of Cornwall Council’s economic growth and development overview and scrutiny committee made the recommendation during a discussion about the council’s budget plans at its meeting on Tuesday.

They said that the council should be following recommendations made by a councillor inquiry into town centre vitality which had suggested that a £4million pot should be set up to help town centres across Cornwall.

The scrutiny committee said that the funding, if agreed, should only be for use by those town centres which had not been earmarked funding from the Government under its own town centres fund.

That programme is set to provide support for four town centres in Cornwall – Truro, St Ives, Penzance and Camborne.

It was announced by the Government in September that they will be able to benefit from up to £25million each for schemes which will help the towns.

But councillors on the scrutiny committee said that it was important that the council also provide funding for other towns in Cornwall which also need support with projects.

"I was part of a high street inquiry panel that looked at revitalising the town centres, this was one of the panel’s recommendations that had been disappointingly omitted from the budget.

"However through the combined efforts of the panel and committee it has been put into the budget, and there will now be a fund for towns to bid into to help develop their plans to revitalise their town centres. Even better news is that it is only open to towns that haven’t received town deal funding.”

Leigh Frost, Cornwall councillor for Bodmin St Petroc and member of the committee

Independent councillor Tim Dwelly put forward the proposal to add the £4m town fund to the budget saying that it was important that the council supported the recommendations made by the town centre vitality inquiry which he had chaired.

Speaking after the meeting he said that he wanted to set up the fund having been involved in work in Penzance to help revitalise the town centre.

He said that using a £250,000 fund provided through the development of Sainsbury’s had helped the town to draw up a plan of projects which could help the town centre and helped to secure Government funding.

This £4m fund is not about Penzance – I am doing it to give other towns the opportunity to do what we have done.

“The idea is that they would set up a town board, draw up some ideas and then come to the council and ask for funding which would help to get those projects off the ground.

“There are a lot of towns which have not been given government funding – Bude, Bodmin, Helston and Falmouth – which are already doing these things and which could benefit.

“We want Cornwall Council to show that it does want to help the high street and bring life back into our towns.”

Independent councillor Tim Dwelly

Cllr Dwelly said he hoped that the Cabinet would support the committee’s recommendation to set up a town centres fund with £4m.

A final decision will be made by the Cabinet when it meets next month to discuss its final budget proposals.

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