A consultation to help unlock millions in government funding and set out a future vision for Southport, is launched this week.
The consultation, which got underway on Monday, is part of the first stage of the government’s ‘Town Deals Fund’.
Southport is one of just 100 towns across the country invited to bid for a share of £3.6 billion to help develop innovative regeneration plans and support to build prosperous futures.
Communities, businesses and local leaders are asked to join forces and ‘get on board’ to draw up ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.
Since November 2019 a number of conversations have taken place across Southport with local residents and businesses to discuss how that money might be spent if the bid is successful.
Over a thousand items of initial feedback have been gathered from the Government’s #MyTown campaign, interviews with representatives of local groups and surveys completed by social media users.
This feedback has helped to shape a number of ‘Big Ideas’ that will feed into the Southport Town Investment Plan, a document that will become the first stage in the process of securing a Town Deal.
Work on the Town Investment Plan is being undertaken by Sefton Council and overseen by the Southport Town Deal Board, a group made up of a number of representatives from key businesses and community groups in the town.
Rob Fletcher, Chair of the Town Deal Board, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to invest in Southport’s future – the resilience of its economy and culture for the benefit of the community. Following initial conversations we have gathered feedback from residents, businesses and leaders in Southport. This feedback has helped us put together a number of Big Ideas and themes, which could help to guide the future of the town. These Big Ideas aim to encourage more people to visit and stay in Southport, provide better opportunities for local businesses to grow, and ensure residents have every opportunity to make the best of our very special town.”
Consultation on the draft vision and the ‘Big Ideas’ for Southport will run until Monday, July 20 – and local residents, businesses and visitors are invited to provide their comments online at yourseftonyoursay. sefton.gov.uk/futuresouthport.
Those without internet access are encouraged to call the consultation hotline on 0808 168 8296.
Mr Fletcher, added: “This consultation is part of the first stage of an evolving process to unlock Government funding for Southport.
“The Big Ideas on the website present our initial thoughts; we encourage everyone in Southport to participate and share their own views on how £25 million could be used on projects in the town. Following submission of the Town Investment Plan there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved during the next stages of the Town Deal and we plan to undertake further engagement in the future.”
Southport MP Damien Moore said: “Securing the opportunity to access £25million was a great coup for Southport. Southport people now have to get on board and give their views on where they want to see the money being spent.
“The Southport Town Deal board has been set up to look at all of the available options before coming up with schemes which will really help to drive the regeneration of our town.
“The funding on its own will not complete everything we want to achieve in Southport but I hope it will act as a springboard to attract further private investment, attract more visitors and create more jobs and opportunities for local people.
“Southport Town Deal was really important for the future of Southport when we initially secured it. But now the Coronavirus outbreak has taken place it has become even more vital that we do all we can to help to kick-start the recovery of Southport as rapidly and as effectively as we can.
“Southport has lots of things in its favour to suggest we face a really bright future if we get this right. Continued inside
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“I hope local people, businesses and organisations really engage with the Southport Town Deal board and consultation process and let them know their views.”
However, a note of caution was issued by Dukes Ward Councillor John Pugh, who said: “Welcome though the Town Centre Funding is, I cannot help thinking that after six months gestation we are still a little behind the curve on this.
“To get even half a share of the potential £25 million on offer, we will need to have shovel-ready schemes. Consultants reports and public consultation by themselves are no substitute for driving, visionary leadership in a time of crisis and retail meltdown. Time is marching on.
“I do not underestimate the challenge facing the Town Centre Forum or their talents b