Each of the five boroughs with town centres will be allocated £1m each and at a conference on Wednesday Steve Rotheram will also announce a Town Centre Commission. Tony McDonough reports
Struggling town centres across the Liverpool city region will be able to access a £5m fund launched on Wednesday by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
Areas already identified as possible beneficiaries of the fund include Birkenhead, Southport, St Helens, Runcorn, Widnes, Kirkby, Prescot and Bootle.
The aim is to revitalise town centres with initiatives around housing, retail offers, business spaces, public sector hubs, venues for events and cultural offers.
Mr Rotherham will unveil the Town Centre Fund at a major conference in Liverpool, hosted by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute, where the impact of devolution on year on will be looked at. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will also speak at the event.
In his speech to the conference Mr Rotheram will say: “Liverpool city centre is the economic engine of our city region and we will continue to support its development with strategic investments, like those we are making to support the knowledge quarter and the new cruise liner terminal.
“But just as we must help our city to succeed, we must also ensure that every part of our region thrives as well. Across our region so many of our towns have untapped potential. Our high streets face new challenges, with new technologies and changing customer habits, and must change in order to survive.
“That is why I am announcing the formation of a new City Region Town Centre Commission. The Commission will work with our local authorities to produce long-term investment plans for how each area’s towns can thrive over the next 20 years.
“I can also announce that I am pre-allocating £5m of funding – up to £1m for each borough with a town centre – to the first round of a Metro Mayor’s Town Centre Fund.
“This is a clear signal that I will ensure that the benefits of devolution really are passed on to every part of our city region.”
The new commission will work closely with teams at the constituent local authorities of the Combined Authority (CA), and with the CA’s Investment Team, to agree which towns to focus the fund on, produce plans (if needed) for how each area’s towns can thrive over the next 20 years, and explore how best to use the CA funding.
The process will also provide local people with the opportunity to comment on and shape investment plans for their local areas.