HARDWORKING businesses could be rewarded with £1m if they improve their town centre for free.
Mary Portas – better known as the Queen of Shops – was enlisted by the Government to bring business back to the high street and award cash to those who need it most.
Wyre Council narrowly missed out on the first round of funding, but hope has not been extinguished after a further grant was made available.
Providing traders work alongside the authority to make changes to the borough, they could be singled out for the cash.
Coun Gordon McCann, economy portfolio holder for Wyre Council, said: “Since July when we were notified Wyre had not been successful in being named as one of the extra 12 towns for the Portas Pilot scheme it has been announced that an X Fund is to be established, whereby a town has 12 months to achieve what they can without funding.
“At the end of the 12 months a successful town could receive a £1m grant.
“In addition to that potential funding, a £10,000 grant for Town Teams which took part in the Portas Pilot initiative is to be awarded to enable them to implement any actions.”
The Wyred-Up group supports businesses across the borough and hosts regular meetings with traders to discuss ideas about how they can boost sales.
Jane Littlewood, chairman of Wyred-Up, said: “There are a lot of groups in Wyre from individuals to retailers and they are all committed to doing their jobs on a daily basis.
“Times are hard across the board with everything so anything like this funding, which encourages people to work together as a team, can only be a good thing. Everyone has got to look at different ways of doing this and keeping the town centres alive.”
The grant involves working on a budget for the next year, but Mrs Littlewood says trying to revamp Wyre towns without access to any funds will not deter companies.
She added: “We are used to being creative in Wyre.
“In Blackpool they have a lot of different funding schemes but there’s none of that in Wyre, so we are used to dealing with that.”
But Martin Hunns, spokesman for the Cleveleys Chamber of Commerce and Trade, says it will be hard to encourage businesses to work for nothing without the incentive of money.
He said: “People don’t like to work for free – they always need something.
“The shopkeepers are on such a downer because sales are very poor and everyone is finding it hard. We need a boost to bring people back to Cleveleys.
“It’s quite frustrating because we want things to happen but it’s very difficult and I don’t know what the answer is.
“The businesses in Cleveleys have been struggling along with everyone else in the country but this town is quite unique with the new Promenade and hopefully next year, if we get some better weather, we will be back on track.”