Businesses in Holbeach will have the chance to invest in a new town centre regeneration fund for “small schemes” in the area.
Empty shops, pubs and other business premises that are an “eyesore” in Holbeach could be tidied up with cash from the fund which was launched at April’s parish council meeting on Monday.
Coun Nick Worth, South Holland District Council member for Holbeach Hurn, introduced the fund at the meeting and pledged £2,000 from a £15,000 special budget which district councillors can use to support community projects.
He said: “We’re going through a difficult time, not just in Holbeach but across the country.
“There’s a limited amount that we can do, but we can work together and make a difference.
“In the town generally, we have some good businesses that are going to be in Holbeach for a long time to come.
We’re going through a difficult time and there’s a limited amount that we can do, but we can work together and make a differenceCoun Nick Worth, South Holland District Council member for Holbeach Hurn
“There’s very little that you can’t buy in Holbeach but we have to work on finding a solution to making those shops that are closed a little more inviting.”
As well as the regeneration fund, Coun Worth also revealed that the district council had been approached by Historic England to apply for Holbeach to be made a Heritage Action Zone.
Announced by the Government last August, the £6 million nationwide project sees villages, towns and cities get funding for three-to-five years to restore neglected buildings and improve conservation areas.
A Historic England spokesman said: ‘Through Heritage Action Zones, we are providing help where it is needed most because England’s rich heritage is one of our greatest capital assets.
“It is time to use it to bring about positive change in our communities as the historic environment offers people a sense of place, a sense of pride and a sense of belonging.
“It also helps millions earn a living in this country and so we plan to award Heritage Action Zone status to more towns, cities and villages over the next two years, inviting new applications for such status in May.” Coun Worth said: “Historic England is very keen to support Holbeach as one of its regional directors comes through the town regularly.
“It would like South Holland District Council to apply for Heritage Action Zone status, the benefits of which would be to put a real focus on the town’s conservation zone.
“Historic England would like to use the zone as the basis for moving forward and the benefit of being at the forefront of Heritage Action Zone status is that we can apply for Heritage Lottery funding.
“In the meantime, I’ll be putting forward £2,000 from my district council member’s budget and will be asking other councillors to do the same.
“I’d expect the shopkeepers to put something in as well and that way we can quite quickly come up with some small schemes to do up shop fronts.
“We’ve got to make this area look a bit less like an eyesore by doing something relatively simple like Holbeach in Bloom volunteers are doing, without whom Holbeach would be a lot poorer.”
Meanwhile, Coun Isobel Hutchinson, chairman of Holbeach Parish Council, has accused people posting negative comments on social media of having a “quite insulting” attitude towards decision-makers at all levels.
She said: “I personally am getting rather tired of this parish council, the district council and every other council being blamed for the decline of this town.
“I find it quite insulting to presume that the decline of any town is the responsibility of those in power.
“It’s the responsibility of those who live in this town, work in this town and visit this town to shop in this town.
“If they (the critics) think it’s so easy, why don’t they try it?
“Everybody who thinks they can do better should come and join us as a councillor.
“We’re limited in what we can do because we can’t control what landlords charge in rent, we can’t set the business rates and we can’t force people to shop in Holbeach.
“But we’re all trying to work together for the good of the town.”
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