politics

More cash announced for high streets battling to bounce back from coronavirus


Ministers today unveiled the latest batch of towns to receive millions of pounds to boost high streets.

Areas which will receive cash include Red Wall constituencies the Tories seized from Labour at last year’s general election.

Iconic Bishop Auckland in Co Durham will receive nearly £20million just 12 months after Dehenna Davison became the constituency’s first Conservative MP since its creation in 1885.



Dehenna Davison became the face of the Tories’ 2019 election demolition of Labour’s Red Wall



Boarded-up properties blight some towns

Blyth Town Centre in Northumberland will get £11m.

Blyth was the first brick to crumble in Labour’s former strongholds last December, electing its first Tory MP since the constituency was created in 1950.

Other areas to benefit from cash injections announced by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government include Tamworth, Staffs, which will get £21.6m, Sunderland, which nets £25m, and Kidderminster with £20.5m.

In total, another £830m was pledged to 72 towns and cities from the Future High Streets Fund as ministers desperately try to tackle the carnage unleashed by nine months of varying coronavirus restrictions.

The announcement comes as town and city centres across swathes of the country are denied the traditional festive boost of ringing tills to herald the Boxing Day sales, with many non-essential shops shut.

The cash unveiled today is a boost for the Mirror’s High Street Fightback campaign.

Paying tribute to our crusade, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “I want to thank Mirror readers for continuing to back their local high streets throughout this difficult time.



The Mirror’s High Street Fightback campaign


Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick

“This Government stands beside you as we look to a brighter year ahead and a big year for the high street in 2021.”

He highlighted other plans including £24.6m to build 186 homes in Birkenhead, Merseyside, boost road safety measures and a provide new base for its historic market; £17.9m for Worcester town centre to revamp the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange; and £25m for Swindon to modernise its town centre.

He added: “It has been a long and tough year for communities and businesses alike, and they have shown incredible resilience.

“That is why the Government is working hard to help our much-loved town centres get through this and prosper into the future.

“Through our £830m investment from the Future High Streets Fund we are backing ambitious local plans that include converting discussed retail space and improving local transport.

“This will make a huge difference to towns and cities across England, helping them recover and adapt to new shopping habits to become vibrant a place to shop, visit, live and work.

“It will also help create thousands homes of jobs.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are supporting our high streets to get through this pandemic through business grants, paying people’s wages and tax deferrals.



Chancellor Rishi Sunak

“The Future High Streets Fund will help areas bounce back through regeneration projects that level up opportunities and create jobs right across the country.”

But Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed said: “While any funding is welcome, we must not forget the damage the Conservatives have done to our high streets over the past decade.

“The Conservatives have refused to reform business rates that put high street shops at a disadvantage compared to online retailers.



Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed

“Their bungled response to Covid-19 has left high streets struggling with avoidably long lockdowns.

“The key worker pay-freeze, Universal Credit cuts and council tax hikes Rishi Sunak’s planned for the New Year will dampen down spending on our high streets in the middle of a recession.

“The Conservatives have spent 10 years slowly killing off our high streets.

“Their failure on Covid-19, business rates and council tax means high street businesses still face a very uncertain future.”





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