Working together for town centre

A NEW approach to tackle Gainsborough’s empty shops and declining trade is being adopted by businesses in the Town Centre Partnership.

Chaired by Peter Thurlow of Lincolnshire Co-op, the group has appointed 14 member representatives to sit on the board and bring ideas to the table.

They include representatives from big companies like Stagecoach, to small market traders.

And they have signed up for the new voluntary contribution scheme.

Small and large businesses are asked to pay a voluntary annual subscription to join the partnership.

Anyone can join. You don’t have to attend monthly meetings. But your ideas and input can be communicated via board members.

Different subscription rates apply, according to the size of business, with the aim of raising essential funds to fulfil the Partnership’s objectives.

“Our two key priorities are to boost the promotion and profile of Gainsborough and to initiate projects that will address the run-down areas and empty shops,” said Gainsborough Town Centre Manager, David Hawkins.

“By working together and pooling resources we are confident we will make a difference to our high street.”

The push is now on to recruit more members, giving everyone a chance to contribute to the improvement of the town.

Last week YOUR Standard highlighted the problem of empty shops in Gainsborough town centre.

And we asked what could be done to improve its fortunes - in light of the failed attempt to secure £100,000 in the Portas Pilot scheme.

Much time and effort was spent by the Gainsborough Town Team, developing a bid for the cash to improve our ailing high street.

That work has given the Town Centre Partnership a strong foundation to continue where the bid left off, and develop the ideas.

“We were disappointed not to achieve Portas Pilot Town status,” said David. “But we now have the chance to sign up as a Town Team Partner, to learn from some of those Pilot towns.”

The Town Centre Partnership is also putting together ideas as to how £100,000 could be best spent across West Lindsey.

The district council was granted the High Street Innovation Fund by the Government in March.

“We need to come up with sustainable ideas,” said David.

“We are exploring the possibility of vinyl displays to brighten up empty shop windows, and a project to rent out some centrally locates premises as temporary ‘pop up’ shops for new traders.”

Promotional offers and discounts, and a ‘Think Local First’ campaign are also in the pipeline.

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