Our town centres could still be winners as part of Sefton Labour

Sefton Council Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Blundellsands ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett, Manor Ward Labour Councillor John Kelly and Victoria Ward Labour Councillor Mick Roche.

Sefton's town centres could still be winners despite Formby, Crosby, Maghull and Southport failing to be named one of the 12 Mary Portas areas.

Despite each submitting comprehensive bids, which included promotional videos, none of the bids from Sefton were successful in the government scheme.

Shopping guru Mary Portas launched the scheme after conducting a review of shopping last year. As part of a TV show, the retail expert made several recommendations. She hopes the pot of funding will enable shopping areas to capitalise on the initiative to make improvements to attract more shoppers.

But despite failing to be named among the 12 Portas Areas, Sefton Council's Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd said the areas could still be winners as part of an initiative which Labour is drawing up on Sefton Council, which could include financial support to improve local shopping centres.
Cllr Dowd said: "The Mary Portas scheme clearly captured the imagination of many of our shopping centres, many of which need a boost during a difficult economic climate.

"Many local shops are going to the wall and many of our shopping areas are simply failing to attract the shoppers needed to make them viable.

"I have seen details of some of the bids submitted by Crosby, Formby, Maghull and Southport, and there are some really good ideas for breathing new life back into our shopping centres.

"But because the Portas scheme is quite limited, with just 12 out of nearly 400 bids being selected to share a pot of a little over a million pounds, it was always going to be difficult.
"So what my Labour colleagues and I are investigating, is how we can continue to drive forward with the creative ideas which the shopkeepers themselves have shown in compiling these bids.
"This could include a pot of funding to see some of the initiatives detailed in the bids become a reality."
Cllr Dowd said one of Sefton Labour Group's priorities is to regenerate our shopping areas and communities.

Cllr Dowd said: "Shops are struggling in many of our town centres at the moment. It is in all our interests to find ways of helping them and encouraging new local businesses to set up right here in our communities.

"The Tory-Lib Dem government's economic policies are failing and businesses are suffering. Unemployment is now 2.67million, for 16-24 year old that figure has risen to over one million.

"We need to help the local businesses in our shopping centres to turn the tide and thrive. Local business is a major employer in our communities.

"I want to help them to create the employment we desperately need and regenerate our town centres in Crosby, Formby, Maghull, Bootle, Southport and throughout Sefton for the benefit of all of our communities.

"Our town centres are the heart of our communities throughout Sefton. A healthy heart leads to a healthy community.

"That's exactly what we aim to achieve with this scheme." 
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he was deeply disappointed that none of the Sefton bids had been selected as part of the Portas Scheme.

Bill said: "Some of the creative ideas which we have seen generated within our shopping centres by local business people, local shoppers and volunteers, have been tremendous.

"There is a clear desire to improve the offering in our shopping centres, to attract shoppers and to see our town centres once again returned to their former glory. That is exactly what the Labour Group on Sefton Council are proposing to do.

"To be honest, the Mary Portas Scheme was a gimick which only very few communities were ever going to be able to benefit from.

"Sefton Council Labour Group are planning something much more long term which will hopefully benefit our town centres and the communities which they serve for years to come."

Sefton Council Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Sudell Ward Labour Councillor Lynn Gatherer and Park Ward labour Councillor Steve Kermode.Maghull Sudell Ward Labour Councillor Lynn Gatherer has been working with Central Square shopkeepers as part of the Support Our Shops campaign.
Cllr Gatherer said: "The shopkeepers and the Maghull Labour Action Team have been working to promote the regeneration of Maghull's Central Square as part of the Support Our Shops campaign.
"Part of the campaign saw us submitting a bid for a share of the Mary Portas fund. We have all worked together to come up with innovative ideas to attract shoppers back into our shopping centre.
"While we are obviously disappointed at notbeing named one of the Mary Portas Areas, Sefton Labour's plans to create its own fund to help regenerate the borough's town centres means that regardless of Mary Portas, we will still have the chance to turn some of our plans into a reality."
Maghull & Lydiate Park Ward Labour Councillor Steve Kermode is also part of the Support Our Shops campaign group.
Cllr Kermode said: "Central Square was always the hub of the community in Maghull. What the Labour Action Team and the local shopkeepers are trying to do is once again make it the hub of our community.
"The work the campaign is doing, together with the backing of Sefton Labour Group through the creation of this regeneration fund, will help us develop some of the creative ideas which the shopkeepers have devised."
Sefton Council Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Ravenmeols Ward Labour Councillor Peter Maguire.Formby & Ince Blundell Labour Councillor Peter Maguire said Sefton Labour's announcement about a town centre regeneration fund would be a "real boost" for Formby Village shopkeepers and Formby residents alike.
Cllr Maguire said: "I know that many local businesses have put a lot of work into putting together a bid for the Mary Portas fund.
"Sefton Labour's plans for the town centre regeneration fund could allow members of the Formby Village bid to still carry out some of the plans which they put together as part of the Portas bid.
"It is in everyone's interest here in Formby to have a thriving Village centre, with thriving shops. Sefton Labour's town centre regeneration plans will benefit the community of Formby as a whole."
Sefton Council Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Blundellsands ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett, Manor Ward Labour Councillor John Kelly and Victoria Ward Labour Councillor Mick Roche.Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett said Labour's town centre regeneration plans could help "turn around" Crosby Village.
Cllr Bennett said: "Everyone knows the difficulties which Crosby Village has had over recent years, but we all want to see it regenerated and returned to its former glory. Sefton Labour's planned regeneration fund scheme could be a real boost to the Village at a time when we are all still waiting to see what Sainsbury's will do next.
"A regenerated Crosby Village is in the interests of the whole area and I look forward to seeing how we can benefit from Labour's plans."
Manor Ward Labour Councillor John Kelly said Crosby Village is the heart of the community.
Cllr Kelly said: "Crosby Village should attract people from throughout this area, but at the moment it needs attention.
"Sefton Labour's regeneration fund could go some way to bring shoppers back into the Village, which will benefit the shops the wider community."
Victoria Ward Labour Councillor Michael Roche said the Village needs to once again be the heart of the wider Crosby community.
Cllr Roche said: "For a long time, the Village has been the hub of this community. But over recent years it has started to lose its attraction and that is why fewer people are coming in and choosing instead to do their shopping in out of town supermarkets.
"But Labour's town centre regeneration fund plans could help us bring people back into the Village and again make the area the social hub of the Crosby community."

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