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Empty shops in and around Blackpool town centre and (below) Bid manager Eileen Ormand.

Empty shops in and around Blackpool town centre and (below) Bid manager Eileen Ormand.

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EFFORTS to improve rundown shopping parades have been given a boost.

Money has been made available by the Government to regenerate the community hubs which have become havens for anti social behaviour.

Blackpool Town Centre and Bid manager Eileen Ormand.

Blackpool Town Centre and Bid manager Eileen Ormand.

Communities are invited to submit designs about how they will improve their shopping areas and two designs will win a share of £1m to complete their project.

Eileen Ormand, town centre manager for Blackpool’s Business Improvement District, says her group is interested in applying for the money.

She told The Gazette: “I will be fighting for this to ensure Blackpool keeps improving.

“It would be short sighted of us not to look at any opportunities to regenerate communities and, with businesses struggling, we need to do whatever we can. We are currently looking into this and I’m attending meetings focusing on how we can improve Blackpool.”

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Shopping parades throughout Blackpool – like popular community shops in Marton (above) – could be re-designed as part of the project.

John Raine, chairman of Mereside Tenants and Residents Association, says the community will have to be consulted in-depth if the plans are to work. He added: “It could be good because we have had kids congregating around shops in the past and the community has said they don’t want that anymore.

“If we spend the money it has got to be done right and the community has to agree.

“The main thing with everybody at the moment is the economic climate and there’s no point in opening up a shop if there aren’t going to be customers.”

Government housing minister Grant Shapps added: “We want to turn them into the heart of the neighbourhood, regenerate them and make them into the centre of the community.

“There has got to be something fun, enjoyable and energising going about going there.”

A decision on whether Blackpool submits a bid will be made next week.

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