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    Indie retailers welcome funding injection for left-behind towns

    A street in Hartlepool, north-east England. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

    British Independent Retail Association (Bira) acknowledges the government’s investment in towns across the UK.

    BIRA, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, commends the UK government’s commitment to the revitalisation of left-behind towns, putting local communities in charge of over £1 billion for their long-term development.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement earlier this week outlined the allocation of £20 million endowment-style funds to 55 towns, distributed over a span of 10 years. This significant funding initiative, known as the “Long-term Plan for Towns,” empowers communities to regain control over their future, enabling them to make decisions that best serve the interests of their residents.

    The investment is intended to address various local priorities, including the rejuvenation of high streets, the combatting of anti-social behaviour (ASB), the enhancement of transportation networks, and the overall growth of the local economy.

    The Long-term Plan for Towns offers the opportunity for selected towns, including six in the North East, ten in the North West, and four in the West Midlands, to develop their own comprehensive plans, backed by a dedicated Towns Board. This UK-wide approach spans across 55 towns, encompassing seven towns in Scotland and four in Wales.

    Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, said, “We wholeheartedly welcome the allocation of funds aimed at enhancing towns throughout the United Kingdom. The management and development of local areas are of paramount importance to the retail industry. It is crucial to recognise that independent retail establishments serve as the lifeblood of thriving towns and high streets.

    “While we applaud this funding initiative, it is essential that we maintain the safety and accessibility of our high streets. We hope this funding will be utilised to create town centres that remain easily accessible to all, including those who rely on personal vehicles.”

    He added: “The injection of funds into left-behind towns under the “Long-term Plan for Towns” marks a substantial step toward rejuvenating local economies and reinvigorating community spirits. Bira looks forward to witnessing the positive impact of this investment on towns across the UK.”

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