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Suffolk towns to improve town centres

Three of the Suffolk district’s partnerships that are working to improve their town centres have won important backing from the Government after successful bids and the support of the local MP.

On Tuesday (22nd October) the Minister for Housing, Department for Communities and Local Government, Mark Prisk, has announced that Council-backed partnerships serving Woodbridge, Felixstowe, and the four towns of Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Leiston and Saxmundham, will each receive £10,000 from the Town Team Partner initiative towards local projects.

“This is a very welcome new support scheme launched by the Government after it was overwhelmed with bids from town centres for its Portas Pilots initiative, for which our three partnerships were unsuccessful applicants, along with nearly 400 others. However this initiative offered the opportunity to carry on with some of the best bits of the original bids and each partnership now has £10,000 to support efforts in their area,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Leisure.

“Thanks must go not just to the Government for recognising the strength of the grass-roots locally-led proposals but also to Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal’s MP, whose backing was essential in order to be able to submit the bid. I look forward to seeing each partnership put into action their exciting plans for their own area.

“I am pleased that Suffolk Coastal has itself played a key role in helping set up and support these partnerships which have already been making a real difference in their communities, and which with this additional funding from the Government can now go from strength to strength,” added Cllr Holdcroft.

The Government had called on local MPs to support Town Team bids and become partners in the scheme to help breathe new life into the country’s high streets. By being successful, the three partnerships can now tap into the support of the Association of Town Centre Management which has over 20 years’ experience of helping make locations more attractive for businesses and creating vibrant focal points for local communities.

The Town Team initiative will also offer the partnerships direct mentoring and visits from retail experts, regular shared learning with other Town Teams, along with online advice and information.

The Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative will be using the funding to help it improve fund-raising for the high streets in Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Leiston and Saxmundham, supporting more events to attract shoppers, and generally improve the marketing of the towns to help attract more investment.

Woodbridge Town Centre Management aims to create a ‘community hub’ to benefit businesses, residents, and the community as a whole, which would have a strong online presence. It would promote activities such as the Enterprise Club, information and advice surgeries for residents and businesses, a green forum, improved signs around the town linking the water front, Thoroughfare and Market Hill areas, as well display and exhibitions. The long term aim is create a social space to bring people into the High Street for ‘fun’ meetings – tea dances, afternoon bingo, and scrabble. A mobile app will also be developed listing all businesses in the town, an interactive guide to what’s on offer.

The Felixstowe Business Enterprise Group Town Team will use its funding so that the town’s events coordinator can bring more events to the town centre, resort, and the Landguard Peninsula and develop the VisitFelixstowe website.

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