Will Rochford District Council’s Lack of Vision Lead To Our High Streets Demise?

12/01/2020

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I will admit that often my blog posts are born out of pure frustration with Rochford District Council. Today’s blog post is I’m afraid just that.

Today marks the closure of another big High Street store, Mothercare and nationally retail is on the decline. I don’t think that we should just give up.

For months I’ve been pushing Rochford District Council and Rayleigh Town Council to take action to try and find a way to offer support to our ailing businesses owners in our own local High Streets here in the Rochford District before it’s too late for them.

I have had some success in starting the conversation but alas I think that all it has become, just another couple of meetings with no actions. It is hardly surprising that when you speak to business owners they feel unsupported by the Council and wary about getting involved in any schemes. I’ve not seen any credible action from the Portfolio for Enterprise and furthermore, when I sent him an email he has remained unresponsive.

My frustration is compounded today when I read the report in ‘The Echo’ that Southend Borough Council will offer interest-free loans to High Street businesses in its Borough.

“Thanks to this 0per cent loan scheme, it will now be possible for businesses to develop unused floor spaces in an economically viable way, which will help them to generate better returns.

“Just think of how many vacant upper floors could now be utilised in a creative and innovative way.

“However, the council will need to appropriately support local businesses by minimising the complexity and stages of the application process.”

Shop owners will also be encouraged to take more pride and invest in external shop improvements, aided by a new council grant where the authority pays 25per cent towards any improvements.

Mrs Gloyne believes bringing empty shops back into action, even temporarily, will make a huge difference.

She added: “Pop-ups are obviously not a long-term solution, but using these premises fortemporary purposes and special events, whilst they are between leases, is ideal.

https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/18152872.interest-free-loans-offer-firms-reinvigorate-high-street/

At the last meeting with business owners and other Councillors, I ‘reminded’ the strategic director about her previous suggestion of having a BID (Business Improvement District) in Rayleigh, but any glimmer of this happening has still to materialise.

I intend to contact the economic development team at Rochford District Council this week to see if there will ever be any progress on this or if I am looking for something they don’t have for sale.

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