Businesses urged to apply for cash to revitalise ailing High Streets
BUSINESSES across North Somerset are being urged to apply for a slice of £100,000 Government funding to help revitalise ailing High Streets. North Somerset Council has been awarded the cash as part of an initiative to revitalise high streets and tackle the challenge of empty retail properties. But businesses only have until March 11 – Monday - to apply for a slice of the money from the High Street Innovation Fund and are being urged to get their applications in now. The cash was made available following a review by Mary Portas in 2011 into the state of the country's high streets and town centres. The review set out a vision that high streets should become multi-functional and social places, 'where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities.' The report also said that high streets should 'be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again'. Cash from the special fund will be available across North Somerset for 'start-ups', existing businesses and community organisations who have creative and innovative ideas to improve their businesses and the vitality and viability of their town. Small grants, up to a maximum of £3,000, are available for start-ups and existing businesses. For those that have a greater capacity to deliver a more sizeable project, grants up to £10,000 may be awarded. The larger grants are designed to encourage groups of businesses, town and parish councils and communities to work together in partnership. North Somerset Council executive member for economic development, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, said: "This funding is a great opportunity for businesses and communities to either start up, experiment with a different way of doing business, or use a vacant retail premises for a new and alternative use. "We hope that such projects will help to make the high street look a more attractive and vibrant place to be and breathe new life into certain areas of our towns." North Somerset Council is encouraging local businesses and community groups to seize this opportunity at a time when grants are scarce and trading conditions remain difficult. For further information on the criteria, guidance notes and an application form visit www.innorthsomerset.co.uk/funding or ring 01934 426341 or e-mail email@example.com The deadline for applications is March 11 and a further round of applications may be announced should any funds remain unallocated.