Over 370 places applied and today the Department for Communities and Local Government announced the winners - and I am delighted that our bid based around Old Town and Surrey Street Market in particular was successful!
I am delighted that the Council chose this area for its bid. Surrey Street Market has fallen on hard times in recent years but it is a key part of the town and other parts of Old Town were hit hard by the riots. The aim is to transform the area into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter, attracting people from the nearby business district and new housing developments by providing the practical everyday essentials that are missing from local high street shops alongside interesting creative offers. The team behind the bid will bring in pop-up traders, work with other London markets to attract home grown talent, support improvements to shop fronts, create a member-owned cooperative to provide small loans for this purpose and establish a food court in Exchange Square. You can watch their video submission, which communicates their passion for the town very effectively:
As well as funding, we will benefit from:
- free support from retail industry leaders including Mary Portas's own team and access to a range of sector experts;
- a dedicated contact point in Government to provide advice and support in identifying and overcoming challenges to local business growth; and
- opportunities to meet and discuss with fellow pilots to share their experiences and lessons learned.
Congratulations to everyone who made this successful bid possible. The Minister Grant Shapps was really impressed so it was one of the easiest lobbying jobs I have had!
That would be £1.2m of OUR money - including taxes taken from other struggling businesses. Not to mention the admin costs of the government decision making structure behind this. The best help the government can give to businesses is to get out of their hair.
Can't beat Ronald Reagan: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
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