North Staffordshire’s high streets have been given a cash boost in a bid to get shops open and people back to work following lockdown.
The Government-led Reopening High Streets Safely Fund is to give local councils a share of £50m to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces.
The money – announced by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke today (Sunday, May 24) – will support practical measures so businesses can reopen quickly when they are allowed to, staff can get back to work and customers can return to the shops.
It will also support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers.
It is the government’s ambition to reopen non-essential retail in a phased way from 1 June.
The money will see Stoke-on-Trent receive £227,484, Newcastle £115,378, Stafford £121,848, the Staffordshire Moorlands £87,090 and Cheshire East – which includes Crewe and Congleton – will recieve a total of £339,533.
Paul Williams, Lead Director of Place Marketing for the BID, said: “As we look to cautiously reopen the city centre and other high streets across Stoke-on-Trent as part of the gradual and progressive easing of the lockdown, it’s important that we focus on rebuilding consumer confidence.
“Crucially this will require us to safely reconfigure town centres to make them both covid-secure and shopper-friendly.
“The £228,000 announced in the government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will enable us to install a range of physical and social distancing measures including signage, route markings and safety barriers as part of broader plans to entice nervous shoppers back into the city centre and high streets.”
The £50 million funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will be be ready to spend from June 1.
It in addition to the £3.2 billion package of support announced for councils to help them deal with the immediate pressures they have said they are facing.
High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “As we begin to slowly return to normality, the re-opening our high streets will be key to kick-starting our economic recovery.
“Levelling up the regions and supporting our high streets has always been central to the mission of this government.
“Many businesses have already introduced creative ways of trading such as contactless collection or taking orders by instant messaging and shows that they are ready for the challenges ahead.
“That’s why we are providing an extra £50 million for councils to support a range of safety measures that will help get these businesses back on track and ensure that people can enjoy their time visiting their local high street safely again.”