Alford bids for share of £1m windfall

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ALFORD has submitted an application to be one of the 12 Portas’ Pilot Projects, bidding for a share of £1m from the Government to boost high streets around the UK.

In 2011, Mary Portas carried out a review of high streets, exploring new business models relevant to modern customers and examining the case for developing town centres that contribute to promoting economic growth, creating jobs and improving life in the local area.

The Portas Review put forward a series of recommendations that were felt to address these issues. In response, the Government has now launched a pilot initiative to see how the recommendations put forward can be delivered by local communities.

The Alford application, developed by the local community with support from East Lindsey District Council, requests £100,000 to take forward a number of important projects that will support the local economy by growing local business, offering work opportunities for young people and encouraging more people to visit the town centre.

If the bid is successful, the money would form part of a £200,000 programme of work, of which £60,000 would come from East Lindsey District Council and £40,000 from local partners, including Alford Town Council.

Chair of the local Town Team group and Alford Mayor, Peter Milson, said: “Alford has a number of important issues that need to addressed, including lack of investment; the need for more businesses and jobs for our young people and the chance to re-establish our market squares as a places where people can visit, relax and enjoy sharing local news and ideas to benefit the entire community.

“Portas Pilot is an exciting opportunity for us to bid for national funding that could deliver some important local improvements.

Projects that the partnership of organisations would like to deliver with the funding include a redesign of the Market Places to include installation of covered area for community events and use by surrounding cafes and markets and improved access to high speed broadband as a way of overcoming rural isolation.

The money would also encourage youngsters to help older residents without access to online services, and provide grant funding to enable small vacant premises to be used by market traders, new young business owners and those providing community and social services.

Other hopes for the cash include setting up a local news and information service with a rolling diary of local events, an access point for information on health and welfare, policing, benefits and public transport and tourist information, and the subsidising rental of market stalls for young people to sell/promote new products or services on weekly and summer craft markets.

“The community has worked closely to put together a series of proposals and we hope the bid we’ve put forward is successful.”

Portfolio Holder for the Economy at East Lindsey District Council, Councillor Craig Leyland, said: “The community in Alford has worked hard, with our support, to pull together a strong bid document in the hope of funding support to boost the town’s economy by creating new opportunities for business and helping local people to develop new skills.

“The proposal Alford has put forward is an exciting one and we hope it will be successful as it will bring great benefit to the whole community.”

Successful schemes are due to be confirmed later in the year.