Cash boost could breathe life into Woodley's night economyBy Jon Nurse
September 28, 2012
A £10,000 grant could rejuvenate Woodley’s evening economy and help entrepreneurs start up their own business.
Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, has submitted a bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government for Woodley to become a Town Team Partner.
The scheme, announced last month by former housing minister Grant Shapps, includes a £10,000 grant that will not be ring-fenced and help from town centre specialists from the Association of Town Centre Management.
Mr Wilson wants to use the funding to promote Woodley as a market town and make the area more attractive to families, as well as developing a nighttime economy.
The MP hopes use to the Town Team Partner status to promote enterprise in the town and support people launching their own businesses.
The nationwide multi-million pound programme has been offered to towns that were unsuccessful bidding for £100,000 to rejuvenate shopping areas in the Mary Portas pilot scheme.
Woodley, Reading and Wokingham were not named as one of the 12 winners from more than 400 entries.
Mr Wilson said: “This initiative from the Government presents Woodley with a great chance to lay its hands on money to improve our shopping centre and to implement part or parts of the Portas Pilot application.
“But it’s not just cash that’s on offer as Town Team Partner status unlocks support in other ways too, for example, access to specialist support.
“I want to see our shopping centres thrive and unlocking the expertise of the Association of Town Centre Management can help achieve this as well as implementing aspects of the original Portas bids.
“As soon as I hear further I will update people.”
Mary Holmes, chairman of Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative, did not wish to comment on the bid.
Andy Nicholls, economic development officer for Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We are in the process of getting the right people together in order to create a dynamic team that is able to help increase the vibrancy of [Wokingham] town centre.
“The town centre regeneration is on its way and we are pleased with the progress but we know the town has issues that need to be addressed in the short-term and hope a town team would be able to focus on those.”