Formby MP Bill Esterson, borough and parish councillors, traders

Formby Labour MP Bill Esterson with Formby Labour Councillor Nina Killen, Formby Labour Action Team's Tom Donnelly and Sefton Council Leader Cllr Peter Dowd.

Traders, residents, Sefton Councillors and Parish Councillors joined Formby Labour MP Bill Esterson last week to discuss ways to improve Formby Village.

Bill Esterson called the meeting after traders raised concerns with him about falling footfall.

He decided to bring all interested parties together to find a way of improving the Village and attracting customers and new businesses.

The meeting coincided with an announcement by Sefton Council's Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd that Formby Village was to receive a £15,000 grant for preliminary improvement works.

Formby Parish Council's Cllr Mike Coles and Cllr Geoff Gaskin outlined to Bill Esterson what work has already been undertaken and what improvements they have planned.

Residents and traders attending the meeting were also asked to complete a form to outline their ideas making the Village even more attractive to shoppers.

Bill Esterson said he was encouraged by the feedback.

Bill said: "We had a really productive meeting that we can build on.

"The people who came along had the chance to speak to Sefton Council leader Cllr Peter Dowd, together with Formby Parish Council. They all made some very valuable suggestions which we are currently processing.

"Some of the suggestions made include making the Village a cultural hub for Formby. There are suggestions about rates and rents. Some people want to see improvements in access for disabled people. Others say they want to see more external promotion to bring shoppers and new businesses into the Village. Lots of really interesting ideas that we can look at implementing."

Formby Parish Council's Cllr Mike Coles said the meeting would act as an "initial step".

Cllr Coles said: "I thought it was a very useful first step. I was particularly pleased I was able to explain to Bill and Peter Dowd the work we have got in mind for the Village.

"I showed them what we wanted to do with the Village, beginning with the work that has already started on Elbow Lane.

"I would like to follow this event up with some specific business people. We have got to try and get a clear overall plan for parking and traffic, which is in the interests of the shop keepers and the shoppers.

"I see this as the start of a wider programme of work. We have got a lot of work to do over the next few years and I look forward to it.

"It was great that we got the £15,000 from Peter Dowd. It is the first time that Sefton Council has put money into fund projects which are being managed and run within the community and for the community. I see that as a new partnership with Sefton and Formby to really improve where we live and where we shop."

Bill agreed and said Formby should learn from what has worked in other areas to encourage people to shop local.

Bill said: "It is obviously crucial to local communities that they have a healthy and thriving high street. Formby Village is fantastic already. But there is more that can be done.

"We need to take the ideas and suggestions generated from last week's meeting and we need to look at the experiences of other communities. For instance, Maghull and Crosby have both decided to set up Town Teams to focus on improving their shopping centres. I spoke to Mike Coles about how this could work here in Formby.

"The money that Sefton Council under Cllr Dowd is providing to our town centre to make improvements is a kick start to really build on the work that has already been done, the ideas that have been generated and the will of the people of Formby to really have a Village that they can be proud of.

"By working together with Sefton Council, the Parish Council, the traders and the residents, we have the start of an effective partnership which I am sure can really generate the success that we all want to see.

"This is just the start of it and I look forward to continuing the successful partnership that we have now forged."

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