Stratford leader 'disappointed' town not among those receiving high street support - The Stratford Observer
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16th Aug, 2022

Stratford leader 'disappointed' town not among those receiving high street support

STRATFORD will not be among towns to receive high street recovery funding despite the ‘seismic impact’ of the pandemic.

District council leader Tony Jefferson said he was disappointed the authority would not be among those receiving support from the government’s High Streets Task Force.

The programme, which was announced in March 2019, involves experts working with local authorities, business and the community to diagnose issues blocking transformation and recommending ways to make changes on the high street.

The first 70 local authorities to be awarded support have been announced. The selection process uses regional indicators of deprivation and inequality, alongside research on the impact of Covid on high street retail.

But, despite being the worst hit local government area in the West Midlands and the fourth in the country, Stratford has not received any funding.

Coun Tony Jefferson said: “There is no shying away from the fact that the pandemic has had a seismic impact on our economy, and our district has been hit harder than most areas. So, while it’s really disappointing that we haven’t received any funding or support to aid the recovery of our high street we have to recognise how much has changed in a short time.

“The reality is though that the Future High Streets Fund was announced in March 2019, at that stage Stratford-upon-Avon was still relatively prosperous. The Towns Fund was launched in September 2019 and 101 towns were asked to submit. Stratford-upon-Avon was not asked. Furthermore MHCLG specified the town boundaries. This is why it is so important to get across the message that things really have changed for our district.

“On this occasion we were unable to influence any decision, as the allocation was built on metrics and historic data – not taking into account the current picture. But when future funding opportunities arise we will be firmly there, seeking to get the support we need.

“At the moment, we have, three exciting projects underway – the Riverside Corridor Project, the Gateway Project and the Canal Quarter Regeneration scheme – which are all designed to help the economic regeneration of our district, create jobs and help the high street recover. Successful change is shaped by local communities which allow businesses to adapt to changing consumer habits.”

Coventry is among pilot locations which has been helped by The Task Force over the past 12 months, alongside Preston and metropolitan boroughs such as Salford and Croydon, and smaller town and district centres like Accrington, Hartlepool and West Bromwich.

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