New bid to boost town centre trade

By Kevin Unitt Wednesday 30 January 2013 Updated: 01/02 07:48

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Come and shop with us... Paul Evans from Barbers of Warwick and chair of the Smith Street Traders Association, Izzi Seccombe, council cabinet member for adult social care, Alan Farnell, leader of Warwickshire County Council, Louise Wall, council head of sustainable communities, and Julie Crawshaw, project manager for the county wide Operation Footfall. Picture by Jon Mullis 05.013.010.leam.jm1 (www.buyphotos247.com)

AN innovative new campaign has been launched to help boost town centres across Warwickshire.

Following the recent demise of high street retail chains such as HMV and Comet, Warwickshire County Council has announced 'Operation Footfall', a crusade to bring more shoppers to local town centres.

A total of £400,000 is being made available, with business community groups of any size encouraged to apply for grants of up to £30,000 each to deliver initiatives to encourage increased footfall such as food festivals, big screen events, pop-up shops or even free parking projects.

County council leader, coun Alan Farnell, said: “We have seen recently how hard the high street has been hit by the demise of major retails names like Comet and HMV.

“We are keen to buck that trend in Warwickshire and make our town centres a destination for shoppers and people going out in the evening for something to eat and drink.

“Operation Footfall is a major campaign which gives local businesses the opportunity to help us give the economy a much needed boost.”

Among other county council initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy include apprenticeship programmes, small business loans and superfast broadband.

Dave Butler, town centre manager for Warwick, told the Observer: “Clearly the economic climate is tough at the moment for nearly all industries, and retail is no exception.

“Critical to future success is for our towns to continue to offer wonderful amenities such as our parks and gardens, along with a strong and vibrant cafe culture, making a trip into town so much more enjoyable than bland out of town shopping parks, or surfing on line.

“I would encourage everybody to shop locally, and consciously support their local traders.”

John Smith from Stratford Business Forum added "anything theat helps us attract more shoppers and visitors has to be a good thing."

Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/operationfootfall for information on funding opportunities

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