£100,000 windfall for empty shops

Fylde Council Town Hall and (below) St Annes Chamber of Trade Chairman John Moxham.
Fylde Council Town Hall and (below) St Annes Chamber of Trade Chairman John Moxham.
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A BONUS £100,000 is set to be spent improving business prospects in Fylde after the borough received a Government cash windfall.

Fylde Council has joined Blackpool in securing cash from the Government’s High Street Innovation Fund, and has described the boost as “welcome and unexpected”.

St Annes Chamber of Trade Chairman John Moxham

St Annes Chamber of Trade Chairman John Moxham

The cash will be given to areas with high numbers of empty business premises – Fylde currently has 426 – but there are no rules on how the money should be spent which means the council is looking at ways they can use it to give the borough’s economy a shot in the arm.

A spokesman said: “This is something which came out of the blue. We were very pleased to receive a letter from Whitehall saying we were going to get £100,000, and it is for the whole of Fylde.

“The purpose of the grant is to provide support to local authorities and it’s a very open-ended sum of money, there are very few strings attached.”

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The council said elected members would now liaise with businesses to ensure the money goes where it is most needed – on the area’s high streets.

The spokesman added: “The sort of things we will be looking at spending it on are our own initiatives aimed at reducing the number of empty shops, business rate relief, grants to new businesses and we will also be looking at the possibility of shop front improvements.

“There may be other needs businesses have and we will be speaking to them to find out how they would like us to spend the money.”

It is hoped a report on ways the money could be spent may go before cabinet next month.

John Moxham (pictured), chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said he hoped the cash would contribute towards “long-term improvements”.

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He said: “It is good news and needs to be spent on improvements rather than just promotional work. Every area of Fylde needs its share because we all have issues to deal with. There are already significant improvements going on in St Annes and hopefully this can go towards taking them a stage further.”

Wyre Council – on behalf of Fleetwood, Garstang, Cleveleys and Poulton – and Kirkham is still waiting to hear whether it is one of 12 areas which will share £1m worth of cash as part of retail guru Mary Portas Government-backed bid to improve high streets.

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