Cash incentive for high streets

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WIGAN Council has welcomed a cash injection of £100,000 aimed at high street regeneration.

This is a boost on top of the Mary Portas Town Team project which the council is also bidding for funding from.

The government has announced a £10 million ‘High Street Innovation Fund’ to bring empty shops back into use and boost town centre business.

Wigan Council, along with neighbours in Salford, West Lancs, Trafford and Bolton, will be receiving its share as part of continuing efforts to boost the local economy.

Welcoming the news, the council’s Chief Executive, Donna Hall, said: “Wigan has done comparatively well during the current economic difficulties.

“We have managed to maintain footfall in our town centres but this funding will enable us to continue many existing schemes and develop new ideas to support our local economy.

“We’re particularly keen to focus on the role of young people in our economy.”

The council is working closely with top business leaders on boosting the profile of the town.

The Wigan Forward Board launched its strategy earlier this month. It contains detailed proposals for both Leigh and Wigan town centres, including ambitions for land use and new creative businesses.

The Forward Board report states that Wigan town centre has the lowest shop vacancy rate in the North West, the number of businesses in the borough is increasing faster than the Greater Manchester average and that Wigan is one of the country’s top 100 retail destinations.

The town centre increased visitor numbers over Christmas with footfall up by 9.27 per cent and car park usage by 7.46 per cent on the previous year.

The Forward Board report notes areas where more investment is needed and officers believe the £100,000 boost for Wigan town centre will mark a significant step forward.

The government have accepted most of the recommendations of Mary Portas in her review.

They have this week pledged to cut planning red tape and entice motorists to the town centre.

Earlier this year, the council cut charges for Harrogate Street and Chapel Lane car parks, both of which are close to the pool and gym facilities at the Wigan Life Centre.

These sites are already free on Sundays, and now have a £2 all day stay fee on Saturdays.

Ms Hall added: “We are working hard to boost confidence and investment such as this is key to delivering the prosperous town centre we all want to see.”