Ambitious Accrington town centre plans
2:30pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in NW
AMBITIOUS plans for Accrington town centre will be implemented if the Conservative party wins the next general election, Tory councillors said.
A 13-point plan has been outlined, which includes ‘big events’ on a fortnightly basis, discounts off council tax bills for residents who shop locally, deregulated Saturday parking and £10,000 loans for new businesses.
Other points included demolishing tired buildings to create free parking, producing promotional leaflets, inter-shop campaigns, ‘click-and-collect’ schemes, the purchase of franchise brands and wireless internet in the town centre.
Tory councillor for Barnfield, Tony Dobson, said: “This is something we are looking to do if we get in power. All the proposals are doable. They are not a fantasy.”
Labour councillor and deputy leader of Hyndburn Council, Clare Pritchard, however said the council had already launched or was planning to launch most of the points on the plan.
Promotional leaflets and inter-shop promotions were piloted in the summer by the council, which has discussed deregulating Saturday parking and in the process of launching a click-and-collect scheme, Coun Pritchard said.
Christmas markets in Accrington have just been announced for the first time, and she said it was not the council’s job to loan new businesses money or to demolish ‘tired’ buildings it does not own.
She said: “If I went to the council with plans to spend £100,000 on a Nandos franchise, I don’t think it would be voted for. And giving people discounts off their council tax for spending money in the town centre does not sound feasible.”
Current leader of the Labour-led Hyndburn Council, Miles Parkinson, also threw doubt on the plans.
He said: “Of the 13 points, we are probably doing eight of them already, and I’m not sure if the others can be achieved.
“I don’t think giving people reduced rates when they go shopping is going to be viable.”
But Leader of the opposition, Peter Britcliffe said: “We have got to set ourselves targets. It’s up to the local government to drive the local economy. Now is the right time to invest into the borough.”
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