By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
Southwark organisations and groups with ideas that will help high streets and town centres thrive in the wake of Covid-19 can now apply for funding from the council.
Southwark’s £300,000 High Street Recovery Fund opened for bids of up to £25,000 today.
The council launched the fund in response to the pandemic and is looking for “inspirational ideas, brought to life through projects” located in one of the borough’s high streets or town centres.
“The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on our town centres and high streets, exacerbating pre-existing problems and creating new challenges.
“The council has therefore made their protection and development a priority,” a spokesperson said.
The aim of the fund is to attract more people back to Southwark’s high streets and town centres and to increase the amount of time spent in the area.
All projects should make a positive contribution to help local small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) thrive and make high streets more inclusive, particularly for low income and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, the council said.
Projects are under six themes – healthy and safe high streets, cultural and community events, vibrant, resilient and connected high streets, an inclusive, greener local economy, sustainable, accessible places, and Southwark Stands Together.
Eligible applicants include business networks, groups from the arts or creative sectors, schools, colleges, or universities, the voluntary sector, community or resident groups, and individual businesses.
Councillor Jason Ochere, cabinet member for jobs, business and town centres, said: “Our wonderful high streets have taken a real hit during the lockdowns and closures over the past year.
“Southwark is hugely proud of its small, independent businesses and there are many areas of the borough which are destination shopping high streets.
“While many places have reopened, the path to recovery will continue to be difficult.
“I want local business owners and those who are self-employed to feel as encouraged and supported as possible, and for us, and residents, to be there with tangible assistance to help them recover after such a challenging and stressful time.
“That’s why we’re opening the High Street Recovery Fund for bids this week.
“I’d encourage anyone with a great idea to support their high street to submit it.
“We’re looking for any concept, event or plan which increases interest, shoppers and footfall to our local high streets, services, town centres and markets, anywhere in the borough. We look forward to seeing your ideas.”
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