Following a lengthy campaign on the issue, Wilmslow Business Group is delighted at the agreement of funding for a town centre management contract in Wilmslow.
At the Wilmslow Town Council meeting on 15th February, it was agreed that the council would provide the vital support the town centre needs for its recovery from the economic impact of the national coronavirus lockdowns.
Town centre management will be in place for a twelve-month period, funded by the town council, and this follows a decision at December’s town council meeting to allocate £75,000 for the period commencing 1st April.
It will allow £25,000 to coordinate town centre management and the remaining £50,000 will be used to fund events in the town centre later this year as restrictions are lifted.
In addition, Wilmslow Business Group – with separate funding from the town council – has appointed environmental charity Groundwork to undertake a Business Improvement District (BID) feasibility study – details of which will be presented over the coming months.
This work – combined with the town centre management – will help determine how a vibrant town centre could be support to thrive in the future and will be aided by a Town Centre Vitality Study commissioned by Cheshire East Council.
The Town Centre Vitality Study will deliver its outcomes later in 2021.
Wilmslow Town Council has agreed to appoint Groundwork to provide town centre management as soon as the businesses reopen in early April in order to ‘hit the ground running’.
A spokesperson for Wilmslow Town Council said: “The selection of Groundwork recognised the need for continuity, their existing knowledge of all parties already engaged in ongoing work, their potential ongoing work that could run in parallel in developing a future Business Improvement District and their expertise in delivering the Town Centre Management function elsewhere in Cheshire and Lancashire.”
They added: “Although the funding is only in place for a twelve-month period, the town council felt that it was a critical time and were hopeful that the structure put in place would deliver results now and also demonstrate to the Town Centre businesses how a business funded model in the form of a Business Improvement District could work in future years.”
Martin Watkins, chair of Wilmslow Town Council, said: “It is in everybody’s interest that our town centre is resilient and fights back from the devastating impact of the last twelve months.
“The town council is funded entirely by the residents most of whom want a town centre that is vibrant and serves our changing needs and our decision to invest in his way recognises that we as residents are partners in delivering and benefitting from a strong town centre.”
He added: “In the past the town council has worked with the business community in supporting the business group, funding Christmas Lights, funding town centre events and working to aid the return of the Rex Cinema.
“We believe that the business community need our help now as a council and as individual residents.
“In any successful long- term partnership all parties need to contribute and we hope that as circumstances improve for businesses, a longer-term funding solution can be established which delivers for town centre businesses and residents alike.”