Traders offered £20,000 grants to bring them back to town centre - but not takeaways, bookies and pound shops (From The Bolton News)
Traders offered £20,000 grants to bring them back to town centre - but not takeaways, bookies and pound shops
GREENGROCERS, restaurants and music shops will be offered £20,000 to lure them back to the town centre’s empty stores.
But there will be no cash for takeaways, pound shops or bookmakers under Bolton Council’s plans to revitalise the town.
Bolton Council has set aside £1.5 million of funding to be split into two areas, with grants of £20,000 and under available, as well as higher value grants.
Grants below £20,000 would be “fast-tracked” to get the process moving quickly Bradshawgate — with its high proportion of pubs and clubs — is also cause for concern, the council said, and it hopes this new £1.5 million initiative will see more restaurants along Bolton’s “bar street”.
The council hopes more restaurants will see shoppers stay in town after 5pm when stores close.
Council leader Cliff Morris said: “This is about taking a proactive approach and not just letting things happen to us — the town centre is very important and we want to make it as vibrant as we can.
“We want to encourage businesses to set up but it is just as important that they stay here — this is a long term thing.”
Cllr Morris added that a big part of the plan is to “build a Bolton brand” with the hope of attracting family businesses and unique businesses “that will make people want to visit the town”.
The plans still need to be agreed by the cabinet at a meeting on October 14, and if passed, businesses will be contacted to see if they are interested in the scheme.
The one-off money comes from a funding pot set aside by the council for improvements to the town centre.
It is hoped the scheme will bring back some businesses who have previously left the town centre.
The scheme has been welcomed by business leaders.
Rod Neasham, manager of the Market Place, said: “This deserves our support and anything that enlivens the town centre and encourages the re-letting of vacant units is a good thing.
“The more shops we have in the town centre — the better it is for everyone.
“I was pleased to hear plans for more restaurants because leisure is something the town centre needs to improve upon.”
A similar scheme has been used in Altrincham, with Trafford Council offering support to bring empty units back into use.
Christian Spence, head of business intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “After a number of years of high profile concern about the future of our town centres and high streets, it is good to see another major Greater Manchester town centre seriously considering its options for its own urban core."