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STAFFORDSHIRE: Tamworth businesses meeting

STAFFORDSHIRE: Tamworth businesses meeting

St Editha\'s, from Taworth Borough Council

Tamworth Borough Council showcased its multi-million-pound town centre regeneration plans to businesses at an event last week.

Council leader Cllr Jeremy Oates and portfolio holder for economy Cllr Daniel Cook hosted the event at Tamworth Assembly Rooms, delivering a presentation as well as a question and answer session for local businesses.

Among the topics discussed, businesses were keen to hear about what’s being done to ensure any future development sits alongside Tamworth’s historic buildings, and what is being done to increase awareness of the improvements and bring tourists in.

They also wanted to make sure there was a warm welcome for tourists – with the lack of town centre toilets a particularly hot topic of conversation.

Those attending were told the previous facilities were under-used, with an estimated cost to the council of £17 each time someone ‘spent a penny’.

Businesses were also keen that the council worked carefully to keep disruption to a minimum when construction gets underway.

They also heard there will be a ‘look-through’ area where progress can be viewed by passers-by, in order to build excitement and awareness around the scheme.

A popular suggestion put forward on the night was that of offering free parking for visitors.

Cllr Cook explained, however, that no councillor could realistically promise free parking – regardless of how popular the idea might be – because of the significant contribution parking provides to the council’s budget.

He said the shortfall would have to be found from somewhere, and that although he was sympathetic to the idea it would be impossible to lose that income whilst keeping the current level of services across the council.

One business owner asked Cllr Oates why Tamworth Borough Council doesn’t have a TikTok account, to which he replied: “It’s about getting the message right.” 

He said there needed to be more discussion about who should be delivering the message about Tamworth to people – whether it be the council, private businesses, or a separate tourism organisation.

Future High Streets Fund proposals for Tamworth

The Future High Streets Fund comprises five core elements:

  • The relocation of Tamworth College to a new building on the site of the former Co-op department store
  • Refurbishment of part of the Co-op building (the Colehill frontages) to establish a new enterprise centre for small businesses
  • Refurbishment of Middle Entry, including a new area for start-ups and niche businesses
  • The transformation of St Editha’s Square into a multi-use outdoor space
  • An improved entrance to the Castle Grounds from the town centre

Hundreds of people took part in the Tamworth What’s Next consultation in 2019, providing the council with their views on the town centre and their ideas on how it should evolve.

Cllr Jeremy Oates, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “We all want Tamworth town centre to be as successful as it can be, but we know for that to happen it needs to adapt and evolve in response to changing shopping habits.”

He added: “We’re now incredibly fortunate to be in a position to be able to bring about that change, thanks in large part to the £21m Future High Streets funding.

“But for this success to happen, we all need to work together to promote the town and take advantage of the opportunities that it will bring.”

More information about the Future High Streets Fund projects, including a range of FAQs, is available online at www.tamworth.gov.uk/future-high-street-fund.

Words: Richard Price, Local Democracy Reporter


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