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Tiverton's been awarded £100,000 to regenerate its high street. The money is part of the second round of the Portas Pilot scheme, which gives towns a share of a pot of £1million of government money to help out town centres.
Tiverton has seen a number of large shop chains close in recent months, including Waterstones and Peacocks, leaving a number of larger shops in the town standing empty.
The Tiverton Town Team was formed in April preparing for the first round of the Portas Pilot funding to round up support for the Tiverton bid.
Private businesses, local schools, community groups and local and district councils are all part of the team which succesfully earned the funding.
Suzie Griggs, chair of the town team says they approached large stores like Tesco, which has a prominent location in the town, as well as independant shops and schools.
After spending 350 hours working with various agancies in the town, the bid for the full £100,000 of funding was put together for the first round of funding in April, but Tiverton was not successful. The town team resubmitted their bid, with a key aim of helping to reduce empty shops in the town centre, which James Callaghan from the Town Team told us was essential.
View the Tiverton video bid here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACMxoe9ZZ4M&feature=player_embedded
The five aims of the town team are:
*To promote the use of empty shops- this could be in the form of pop up shops or restaurants and small retailer co-operatives. Creating an attraction voucher scheme- this would promote visitors between the town centre and the tourist attractions nearby.
*Creating a loylaty scheme- this would be for local shoppers.
*Parking- creating town centre coach park and keeping parking costs down.
*Signage- improving the signage to the town from the North Devon Link Road, to promote more passing trade and increase visitor numbers.
Heart spoke to local shoppers in Tiverton who agree wholeheartedly that something needs to be done, and soon, about the number of empty shops. A number of people we spoke to said the sight of closed retail space was "depressing" and the town needed more boutique style shops to encourage people into the town.
However it's clear that the Pannier Market remains a key attraction to the town, with many people coming to spend their money there, rather than in the high street.
The response from tourists was that Tiverton is a lovely Market Town, but they agreed that there needs to be more signs telling people that Tiverton is there, and what the town has to offer.
The Tiverton Town Team are organising a public meeting, so that local people can get involved and tell the team how they'd like the money to be spent. Tivertonians can vote on the Town Team website www.tivertontoday.co.uk