Blackpool has been chosen to take part in a national scheme to boost the high street –backed by the Prince of Wales.
The town is one of 34 to get the backing of Healthy High Streets which aims to increase shopper numbers by 10 per cent, cut the number of empty shops by 20 per cent and create jobs.
It will mean retailers get the support of the scheme’s “high street champions”, experts in various fields from big name companies who will offer help and advice and help to draw up a shops master-plan for Blackpool town centre.
The scheme comes from Business in the Community an organisation part of Prince Charles’ Responsible Business Network which aims to encourage business to help create a fairer society and a more sustainable future.
Blackpool’s inclusion is thanks to work from Blackpool Business Improvement District, run by Eileen Ormand.
She said: “Its very exciting to have been chosen after all the hard work that has been done towards this.
This will encourage further investment and job creationCoun Mark Smith
“It is a business led rather than public sector led, but will involve a collaboration with the Local Authority and Coastal Communities team, and will be tailor made for Blackpool.
“The ethos is to create a vibrant town centre with ideas specifically designed to address our specific issues and building on our specific strengths.
“It will not just be a talking shop and we aim to get started immediately with drawing up our action plan.”
Business in the Community’s Peter Donohoe said: “One of the most powerful ways for business to make an impact in communities is by creating high streets that are vibrant places to live, work and do business.
“People in Blackpool are going to get a tailored package of support which will be specific for local high street and support the vision that the local partnerships come up with.
“We have some big names backing the project with a wide range of expertise but it is all about local knowledge with nothing generic imposed.
“We all want to see more vibrant high streets and they have to compete against out of town centres and the internet nowadays so business as usual is not an option.”
He added that the first year of the programme had been a success with support and resources worth around £9m delivered to 33 towns.
Blackpool Coun Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “It is vitally important we have a thriving town centre, with improved footfall and more people choosing to shop and enjoy our extensive leisure and cultural offer.
This will encourage further investment and job creation.
“We have worked closely with the Blackpool BID team to bring the Healthy High Streets project to our town centre and welcome any support that helps create the right investment environment for Blackpool.”
Robin Foale, managing director, Santander Business Banking, and chairman of the Healthy High Streets programme said: “Congratulations to Blackpool on being chosen to be part of the Healthy High Streets programme. This is a great opportunity to work with the business partners and the local High Street Champions to transform the town and create a thriving, vibrant centre for the local community.”