Headlines: December 8th, 2009

Campaigners say more needs to be done to help smaller towns combat the effects of the recession. The warning has come from Action for Market Towns, which has given a cautious welcome to a 2.6 million pound Government fund to help revitalise high streets.

The money is the second stage of the ‘Real Help Now’ initiative to help local authorities ensure that town centres remain vibrant through support to reopen or re-use empty shops. In contrast to the initial allocation in August, which went largely to bigger cities, 30 per cent of the new funding will be available to councils in rural areas.

AMT’s Chief Executive, Chris Wade said: “While it is good to see the Government acknowledging that high streets in our towns are suffering because of the recession, smaller towns must now make sure their voices are heard when their local authorities come to distribute the government cash, otherwise they may find the money going to their larger neighbours.”

The organisation says it is ready to offer support and services to market towns to ensure they make best use of the more than 52,000 pounds which has been allocated to fifty local councils. As part of its Prosperous Places Campaign, the Action for Market Towns website now contains information designed to inspire towns as well as to give practical help, including the policy background, case studies of successful projects and pointers to further advice and support.