Rotheram launches fund for town centres

Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor for Liverpool City Region, will today announce a £5m Town Centre Fund as the first round of investment in supporting improvements in urban centres.

Up to £1m will be available for each of the city region’s five local authorities outside of Liverpool’s city boundaries – Sefton, St Helens, Wirral, Knowsley and Halton to bid for, with contenders likely to include Birkenhead, Bootle, Kirkby, Prescot, Runcorn, Southport, St Helens and Widnes.

LCR said that the type of plans that might find support could include ideas for innovative town centre housing, restructuring retail, business space, public sector hubs, event venues and cultural offers.

Rotheram said: “Liverpool city centre is the economic engine of our city region and we will continue to support its development with strategic investments.

“But just as we must help our city to succeed, we must also ensure that every part of our region thrives as well.

“Across our region so many of our towns have untapped potential. Our high streets face new challenges, with new technologies and changing customer habits, and must change in order to survive.

“The Commission will work with our local authorities to produce long-term investment plans for how each area’s towns can thrive over the next 20 years.

“This is a clear signal that I will ensure that the benefits of devolution really are passed on to every part of our city region.”

Rotheram’s commission will work with teams at the local authorities, along with the combined authority’s investment team, to agree which towns to focus the fund on, produce plans and explore how best to use the financial support. The process will also provide local people with the opportunity to comment on and shape investment plans for their local areas, the authority said.

The announcement will be made today at a conference hosted by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy & Practice.

The conference will also feature city mayor Joe Anderson and Rotheram’s counterpart in Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who launched his own Town Centre Challenge in November 2017 for smaller town centres – applicants have included Leigh, Farnworth, Stalybridge and Swinton.

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