Could Ilfracombe win Government cash?

Town looking at bidding on two different rejuvenation schemes for coastal communities and to revive high streets.

ILFRACOMBE is hoping to benefit from two Government schemes aimed at rejuvenating towns.

It is early days, but the Town Council is looking at bidding for some of a �23.7 million Coastal Communities Fund unveiled on Thursday.

Another possibility is for the town to become one of 12 pilots, with potential funding of up to �100,000 each, aimed at returning prosperity to UK high streets in the wake of a review carried out by “queen of shops” Mary Portas. Barnstaple is also understood to be planning a bid for for a share of the �1million so-called “golden ticket” scheme.

The �23.7 million pot was announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Chief Secretary Danny Alexander to provide struggling communities with money to support a range of schemes to boost economic growth.

Grants of between �50,000 and �2 million are available and Mr Pickles said he would especially like to see quality bids from social enterprises, charities, local businesses or local enterprise partnerships.

“This is a great opportunity for long overlooked seaside towns, large and small, to grab a chance to grow through imaginative and innovative projects that create skilled workers, and provide year round jobs,” he said.

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The Mayor of Ilfracombe, Councillor Rod Donovan, said the council was actively looking at getting funding from the Coastal Communities pot, but he warned: “From bitter experience we have learned that a lot of work can go into a bid, only to be disappointed at the last minute, but we will be pursuing this one.”

The Portas Review made recommendations on what could be done to develop prosperous and diverse high streets.

The pilot schemes will test these ideas and grants would be paid to councils, which must base bids around a “Town Team” that would include local traders, business people and community representatives. Applications must be submitted by March 30.

“Clearly as a community with a desperate need to get things turned around in the High Street, we are hoping we can put together a project,” said Town Councillor John Swan.

“We were pleased to note that one of Mary Portas’ suggestions was to encourage markets, so we would hope to try to promote Ilfracombe Indoor market as much as we could.”

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