Agenda item

Town Centre Improvement Plan Update

The Forum will receive a presentation from the Town Centre Improvement Plan Co-ordinator to update on the Town Centre Improvement Plan.

Minutes:

The Town Centre Improvement Plan Co-ordinator presented an update on the Town Centre Improvement Plan, highlighting the following points:

  • Lots of work was taking place within the 5 sub-groups of the steering groups.
  • The Business, Markets and Independent Retail Group were exploring the potential of a Business Improvement District and appointing a retail advisor to assist independent retailers across the district. They had also overseen the running of Shop Local prize draws in November and December and were also seeking investors who may be interested in the vacant buildings in the town centre. The Recovery and Growth Grant had supported businesses across the District, and the Council was currently rolling out an Omicron grant for leisure and hospitality businesses. They were also working on providing independent business promotion videos which allowed businesses to showcase their offer.
  • The Environment, Public Realm and Heritage Group had instigated a district wide deep clean by the Environmental Services Team, working with the Procurement Team.  They were looking at specialist pest control companies to help with the pigeon problem in the town centre, an improvement scheme for the public toilets around the district, and were exploring further funding opportunities for town centre improvements.
  • The Events, Culture, Promotion and Awareness Group had overseen the Pumpkin Festival and Christmas celebration events. They were also working with Transported who had recently received an £800k grant from the Arts Council to provide Spalding Super Saturday events in the town centre and they had sent a list of attractions to Visit Lincolnshire to add onto their website.
  • The Travel, Transport and Accessibility Group had consulted with the County Council on how to make the town centre more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians and lobbied LCC to influence their bus service improvement plans.
  • The Economy and Skills Group were working on improving Boston College’s offer at their Spalding Campus to help improve footfall in the town centre. It was proposed that further business start-up space be provided in the Campus building on the digital skills hub which had opened in May 2021, and they were also looking to offer a range of different courses.
  • Lots of important work was taking place simultaneously to improve both Spalding and Holbeach town centres.

 

The following points were raised by Members of the Forum:

 

  • Concern was raised about M&Co closing down as the management had been open to staying in Spalding but couldn’t find any premises. Had the Council given them any advice?
    • Officers confirmed that the Economic Development Team were working closely with the M&Co manager to identify vacant premises that may be suitable.

 

  • What were the chances of M&Co remaining in Spalding?
    • Officers responded that they were keen to ensure that the business stayed within the town centre.

 

  • There had been an article in The Voice which suggested that the Johnson Water Fountain would be placed in Ayscoughfee Gardens - was this true?
    • Councillor Grocock, Portfolio Holder for Assets and Planning, responded that the relocation of the fountain was an issue that he had been aware of for a number of years.  It had originally been taken down to allow the new WW2 memorial to stand next to the WW1 memorial in Ayscoughfee Gardens. Officers had looked into several options for the relocation of the Johnson Water Fountain, and Ayscoughfee had been picked due to the Johnson sisters having lived at Ayscoughfee Hall. A space had been identified for the fountain in a prominent place within the gardens and a heritage sign would be placed in front of it to explain its history., but a planning application would first have to be submitted..
    • Councillor Grocock had been made aware that the Civic Society had started a petition to have the fountain placed back in the town centre but stated that the fountain could not be relocated there due to its original lead piping which could cause health and safety problems, and there were safety concerns with placing it back in the town centre.

 

  • Some members commented that other towns and cities had brought back old water fountains, so it was disappointing that Spalding wasn’t able to do the same.

 

  • Concern was raised that there had been no public engagement around the issue and no discussion with the Civic Society.
    • The Chairman advised that it would be wise to wait and see the public reaction to the petition.

 

  • It was suggested that shops could open later on a Sunday in the summertime - was this something that could be trialled?
    • Officers responded that they would look into this issue.

 

  • There had recently been an article in a local newspaper which had stated that the cost to the Council to keep the markets running was £200k per annum - how was this possible?
  • Officers did not have the information available during the meeting but would circulate further information after the meeting.