Cash boost for Yarmouth

Norwich and Great Yarmouth are each to receive a pre-Christmas boost of more than �50,000 in government money to help fill empty shops and attract more visitors.

Norwich and Great Yarmouth are each to receive a pre-Christmas boost of more than �50,000 in government money to help fill empty shops and attract more visitors.

They are among 57 towns and cities across England to be share �3m, first announced in April, aimed at encouraging the re-opening and re-use of retail units that have closed during the recession.

Communities secretary John Denham said: “This money will mean councils can put their creative ideas to work and transform those boarded-up eyesores into attractions that bring the shoppers back to the high street.

“This comes on top of the wider support available to help ease business pressures including our town centre revival guide, capital loans, discounted rate bills for small businesses and tax deferments.”

Norwich will use its �52,632 grant to support the vacant shop campaign, which brings together the city centre partnership, landlords and tenants to promote the city, brighten the streetscape and attract new businesses and visitors.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, will use its grant of the same amount to fund a retail study.

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Norwich city centre partnership manager Stefan Gurney said: “It's excellent news. No one wants to see boarded-up shops and whitewashed windows. We want a vibrant city centre, full of people using it.”

He said Norwich was fortunate that its vacancy rates were below the national average. The latest figures show they are running at 8.1 per cent, compared to a national figure of 12pc.

Mr Gurney said charities, arts and community groups could possibly move in to some of the vacant units until a commercial use could be found for them once more.

Steve Morphew, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said: “This government funding will be a real boost to the city council's efforts to ensure that our city centre remains a vibrant place that people are attracted to come to from far and wide.”

Norwich South Labour MP Charles Clarke said: “City centres up and down the country have suffered as a result of the economic problems, but this money will go some way to helping Norwich prepare for the recovery, so that our city centre comes out of it strongly.”

Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith said: “I welcome any focus on Norwich and help for the city centre. People want to see the city centre bright and successful, not only at Christmas, but we also need serious national action to get the economy back on track.”

Graham Plant, Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Conservative cabinet member for regeneration and tourism, said he was disappointed at the size of the grant for the town.

“I'm not excited by it at all - I think it's a joke. It cost �12m to rejuvenate the seafront. There are about 50 empty shops in town, so this works out at about �1,000 each. What are we going to do with that?”

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