THE FIGHT to save Gainsborough’s struggling town centre continues as one councillor argues for more investment while others celebrate receiving £10,000 funding.
Earlier this year, Gainsborough failed in its bid to become one of England’s high streets to share £1 million to make huge improvements with help from a dedicated team and TV retail guru Mary Portas.
However, the Gainsborough Town Partnership and MP Edward Leigh have jointly signed up as a Portas Town Team Partner and are set to receive £10,000 to help towards putting some of their ‘Portas Pilot’ plans into action.
Chair of the Gainsborough Town Partnership Peter Thurlow said that he was very excited at what lies ahead for local businesses.
“We were encouraged by the response to the launch of our ‘Think Gainsborough First’ campaign last week which focussed on local businesses for local people,” he said.
“Working closely with the Lincs Chamber of Commerce the group can now continue its plans and use this money to further develop the key aims of the Partnership, including wider promotion of Gainsborough and its businesses, increased Market Place activity and improving the look of the Town Centre and shops”.
Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government, said that while 326 applications to become a Town Team Partner were received, the government were keen to ensure that those who were not successful still got the help that they needed.
“I recognise the disappointment felt by Town Teams who were unsuccessful in their application to become a Portas Pilot,” he said.
“Becoming a Town Team Partner is our commitment that no town who applied to be a Portas Pilot would be left behind.”
David Hawkins from the Town Centre Partnership said that Gainsborough will now be able to access a support package that the Association for Town Centre Management has prepared following the ‘Portas Review’ and this will encourage shared learning and best practice with the help of retail experts and other ‘Town Teams’ across the country.
However, West Lindsey Councillor Reg Shore has been very vocal calling upon the local authority to invest more in Gainsborough town centre and for more focus and ideas in bringing it ‘back to life’.
His comments come after controversial proposals were announced to build a hotel on Whitton’s Gardens alongside other plans to build a cinema and shops in the town’s Elswitha quarter.
“The people of Gainsborough want to see something done to re-enliven their town centre,” said Coun Shore. “I’ve spoken about this at council meetings because it’s about time we saw a catalyst to make the town centre vibrant once again.”
“There needs to be something to bridge the gap between Marshall’s Yard and the new developments taking place by the riverside so that the old town can attract more visitors and ultimately, investors.”
“If we don’t do anything but go ahead with the riverside plans like the hotel, then that will take away the little bit of credibility that there was in that area and investors won’t see any potential beyond it.”
He continued: “One thing I’d like to see is some kind of retail outlet in the town centre like those in York and Portsmouth - the sort of shopping experience that people will travel to from across the region.”
“The town centre needs to actually become an attractive and welcoming place that’s full of people, where people want to sit - that is vital. A water feature would be ideal.”
Coun Shore went on: “It’s just a dead space and all that’s missing is tumbleweed. For a reasonably small amount of money, we could revitalise the town centre.”
“It’s about investing in our future and making developments that work for everyone. What we can’t do is leave the place to rot, but the administration have got to agree to do it first.”
He added: “The council have agreed that this is a good. While they’re very good at talking about things, we need to get something done - before its too late.”
- What would YOU like to see done to improve Gainsborough’s town centre? Email or write to us and let us know.