£75,000 to aid recovery of Wilmslow town centre

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Wilmslow Town Council has set aside a budget of £75,000 to support the recovery of the town centre next year.

During their meeting on Monday, 21st December, members agreed a budget of £25,000 to fund a town centre recovery management service along with £50,000 for the delivery of events in 2021.

The town centre events budget for next year represents an increase of £42,000 over the budget for the current year - during which £17,000 was saved due to the cancellation of events and £10,000 was received as grant for Covid recovery in the current year.

The increase in overall spending is to be funded out of council reserves with the Town Council precept remaining unchanged for the next financial year.

The Town Council also agreed to engage with 'Groundwork' to ask them to devise a proposal for town centre recovery management. Groundwork was engaged by the Town Council earlier this year to provide a business improvement district feasibility study for the town centre.

Matthew Jackson, Clerk of Wilmslow Town Council said "The Town Council intends to proceed promptly in the new year with these discussions to be able to take advantage of the possible easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the spring, the priorities and costings will not be determined until further discussions with Groundwork have taken place. The Town Council is looking to provide funding for a dedicated time limited recovery rervice from Spring 2021 until Spring 2022."

Martin Watkins, Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council said "The businesses in our town have struggled like all others in this difficult year and it is important that those who can, pull together to aid recovery. We believe that Wilmslow residents have a vested interest in the ongoing vitality of the town centre and Wilmslow Town Council believes we should invest funds raised from the residents to aid the business recovery.

"It is obviously important that over the longer term the business community rebuilds and contributes to this shared responsibility and also important that in the short term we strike the right balance in providing a sensible level of funding that fits with the proposals as they unfold, the budgeted figures I believe will allow us to do so."

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jean Berman
Wednesday 23rd December 2020 at 6:29 pm
To me the easiest solution is to scrap parking charges and people might start coming in
again.
Rick Andrews
Wednesday 23rd December 2020 at 6:36 pm
Just for clarity who or what is Groundwork and what are the costs to “engage” with this entity.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 23rd December 2020 at 9:12 pm
@Rick Andrews good question.
Perhaps Martin Edwards could elucidate? I’m slightly nervous when Council Tax payers are “obliged” to bail out failing private enterprises, without prior public debate.

Previous iterations of our local Councils in Wilmslow; Wilmslow Borough Council, Macclesfield Borough Council, Cheshire County Council and.... Cheshire East Council have historically been mired in controversy and dubious “deals” .....allegedly.

Who are Groundwork, how were they chosen and where is the record of due process?
Alan Brough
Thursday 24th December 2020 at 8:20 am
The only "Groundwork" that I can find on a well known search engine comes up with this charitable foundation...

https://www.groundwork.org.uk/

They claim to have extensive experience in bringing improvement to some of society's most disadvantaged areas.

Of course, if this is the wrong organisation, I'm sure that Martin Watkins will put us straight.
Nick Jones
Thursday 24th December 2020 at 8:32 am
I concur with points raised above, WTC have been slow out of the blocks on COVID but outside of the pandemic hardly demonstrating any initiatives that bring life into our town. [As per previous thread . https://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/20880/mp-calls-for-an-hour-of-free-parking-in-wilmslow-to-help-high-street-recover ] Its apparent some of the WTC Councillors want to work together irrespective of party allegiances, but are being stifled by others controlling the group. Actions speak louder than words and if this cant be visible to all, maybe it is time for a change at WTC to become more effective and put those with the community at their heart in charge. [We wont revisit the folly of trying to buy the library or the £1/2M reserves not being used ]
Mark Goldsmith
Saturday 26th December 2020 at 8:27 am
This was a Residents of Wilmslow proposal based on a scheme we first put to the council back in September. Unfortunately, your four RoW councillors were outvoted by all eight Conservative councillors, who flatly refused to see the need to act. However, this is a critical initiative for the towns future wellbeing, so we tried again and are really pleased they now all support this latest proposal.

The £75,000 is only a budget though and Groundwork were only used to illustrate the level of cost that might bee needed. No decision to use them has been taken or how much of the money will actually be spent. This is the next stage of the project.

Wilmslow's footfall is down 23% year on year, which is the largest drop in any Cheshire East town. Therefore, it is critical we do something now and during 2021 to help reverse this decline. With retailers struggling to stay afloat, it is right the town council funds this scheme using part of its ample reserves. However, we envisage the council’s involvement will only be for one year as responsibility can then pass over to the Wilmslow Business Group. There is a government backed framework for them to do this and the retailers will then fund and manage the scheme themselves.

Additionally, late next year, Cheshire East's funded Town Centre Vitality Plan will also be finished. This will give us a clear long-term strategy of how we can ensure the town centres success and guide us on how to attract the inward investment needed to make more widescale, structural improvements to the town.

However, in the meantime, we need something to give our existing retailers every chance of recovering during 2021, so we are very pleased the money and political will is now there to do this.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Cheshire East & Wilmslow Town Council
Nick Jones
Saturday 26th December 2020 at 3:24 pm
Thank you Cllr Goldsmith , clearly you and some of your colleagues clearly understand the predicament before our town, but those controlling the direction of WTC dont.

Perhaps the precept should stop until the £1/2 Million pound reserve being held is spent on local initiatives to reinvigorate use of the town to business residents/ workers alike

I walked through Wilmslow on 24/12 and the number of empty shops is staggering.. It would appear it is time for a change in WTC governance if no change is visible.
Manuel Golding
Monday 28th December 2020 at 11:15 am
What a big difference NEW BLOOD on WTC has made! Our new 4 Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) have certainly injected a new lease of life from the controlling Conservatives. We are now bwgining to see a WILMSLOW council working and acting to better the town, with innovative thoughts and ideas to brighten up the town's landscape in these distressing and pandemic ridden times. Rather than sitting back on their proverbial, they are putting thoughts, ideas and possible solutions forward - the Rex cinema opening for the older population, the SOS (Save our Shops)idea in collaboration with others- rather than sitting back twiddling their thumbs. Thanks to Councillor Mark Goldsmith and his RoW colleagues, Councillors Jon Newell, Lata Anderson and Jon Kelly, are busy making positive contributions at this difficult time.
What we need is further additional RoW councilors on Wilmslow Town Council (WTC) - they are proving the value in their Independence of any main-stream political party, simply working for Wilmslow and its residents. They are supported by their CEC RoW colleagues (Cllrs Toni Fox (Dean Row), David Jefferies (Wlm East), Mark Goldsmith and Iain Macfarlane (both WlM West) similarly Independent of main stream political allegiances.
Hopefully, Wilmslow TC and Cheshire East Council are both shedding the smothering umbrella of previous Conservative dominance here and on both councils.
At any and all forthcoming elections RoW hopes to field a independent
preference for voters to express their desire for an improved political outlook for the town and Cheshire East.
If you feel you should help build a wider and stronger independent RoW choice at the next local elections please do contact RoW - all discussions in the strictest confidence.

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