Sefton Labour plans 'mini Mary Portas' areas to regenerate our t

efton Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Crosby and Blundellsands Labour Action Teams' Veronica Bennett, John Kelly and Mick Roche.

Sefton could launch its very own 'Portas Areas' to help regenerate our town centres if Labour takes control of the council in May, Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd said this week.

Cllr Dowd said the council will investigate how new life can be breathed into Sefton's shopping centres.

One possibility is for the the council to emulate Mary Portas' scheme which has seen hundreds of shopping areas submit bids for a share of a £1m pot. Under the Portas scheme 12 areas will take a share.

Crosby Village, Formby Village, Maghull Central Square and Southport have all prepared bids.

But Cllr Dowd said he hoped Sefton would put together a scheme which could benefit as many of the borough's shopping centres as possible.

Cllr Dowd said: "The Mary Portas scheme has 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, not all of the bids from Sefton will be successful. 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 is something which I'd like to roll out following May if Labour take full control of Sefton Council at the local elections in six weeks' time."

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. A healthy heart leads to a healthy community.

"That's exactly what we aim to achieve if we are successful in gaining control in May." 
Sefton Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Maghull & Lydiate Labour Action Team's Cllr Steve Kermode and Lynn Gatherer.Maghull Labour Action Team's Lynn Gatherer has been working with Central Square shopkeepers as part of the Support Our Shops campaign.
Lynn 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 has seen 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.
"But Sefton Labour's plans to create its own fund to help regenerate the borough's town centres means that whether we are successful in the Portas bid or not, we will still have the chance to turn some of our plans into a reality."
Maghull & Lydiate Labour Action Team member, and Maghull Town Council Labour Counillor, Steve Kermode is also part of the Support Our Shops campaign group.
Steve 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 Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Formby & Ince Blundell Labour Action Team's peter Maguire in Formby Village.Formby & Ince Blundell Labour Action Team's 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.
Peter said: "I know that many local businesses have put a lot of work into putting together a bid for the Mary Portas fund, and many were disappointed when Formby Village was not selected as Sefton's preferred option.
"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 Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Dowd with Crosby and Blundellsands Labour Action Teams' Veronica Bennett, John Kelly and Mick Roche.Blundellsands and Crosby Labour Action Team's Veronica Bennett said Labour's town centre regeneration plans could be a real boost for Crosby Village.
Veronica 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."
Crosby, Thornton and Hightown Labour Action Team's John Kelly said Crosby Village is the heart of the community.
John 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 Action Team's Michael Roche said the Village needs to once again be the heart of the wider Crosby community.
Michael 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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