Groups given £10,000 grants to boost trade
A NEW attempt to breathe life into Bristol's high streets was being launched today.
Four bids from the city have been handed £10,000 each to come up with ways of boosting footfall.
They include the Church Road Traders' Association in Redfield, which is looking to improve the appearance of the street.
Plans include buying potted trees that shopkeepers would put out during the day and decorate at Christmas time, repainting tired facades and bringing patches of wasteland back to use.
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Longer-term ambitions include measures to make it easier for shoppers to visit the road on bicycles.
Simon Webb, of Blue Skies photography, who helped run the bid, said: "As business owners, we have an idea about how to strengthen the retail environment, but it has got to start cosmetically.
"We have got some really good independent businesses on Church Road, but we want more.
"Getting the money is extremely good news – Church Road is an overlooked area, but it is up and coming. This is a really good opportunity for us to build a vision."
Also awarded cash were bids from the Gloucester Road Traders' Association, the Old Market Community Association and from Bristol City Council to draw up a retail action plan.
The 'town team' partners is a scaled-down version of the town team pilots set up by ministers alongside retail guru Mary Portas, left, which saw Bedminster chosen among 12 parts of the country to receive cash and guidance to spruce up the high street.
Ms Portas was asked by the Government to produce a report on revitalising Britain's shopping streets earlier this year, recommending lower parking charges and dedicated 'town teams'.
However, the TV star has since said she feared the project was nothing more than a PR exercise.
The latest bids were co-ordinated through MPs, who were asked to put forward a local case to ministers.
A bid in Weston via North Somerset council was also given £10,000.
The city council's bid is called Bristol Retail+, and aims to draw up a city-wide strategy.
Mr Webb is also involved in a campaign to set up 20 town teams across the whole of Bristol. Mayoral candidates are being urged to sign up to the project, which would fight for help and funding for the city's network of shopping areas.
Mark Prisk, the minister in charge of local growth, said the teams would have access to an advice line, regular meetings with experts and an online 'knowledge bank' as well as some cash to get projects off the ground.
He admitted there was no "silver bullet", but added: "There's a real hunger in town centres across the country for them to be revitalised and remain attractive places to visit."