Councillors set to approve £500,000 for community shopping centres

St Helens Star: It will bring the total spent at local shopping centres on providing new footways, resurfacing, disabled access and new street lighting to £2 million in the last two years It will bring the total spent at local shopping centres on providing new footways, resurfacing, disabled access and new street lighting to £2 million in the last two years

MORE than £500,000 is set to be pumped into improving the surroundings at a network of community shopping centres.

Senior councillors were tonight expected to approve plans to use money from the local authority’s reserves to deliver the improvements.

It will bring the total spent at local shopping centres on providing new footways, resurfacing, disabled access and new street lighting to £2 million in the last two years.

The latest phase would improve centres at Earlestown and Park Road South, Newton; Bassenthwaite Avenue, Wythburn Crescent and Dalehead Place, Moss Bank; Waterdale Place, Sutton; City Gardens and Hard Lane, Windle; Chancery Lane, Tickle Avenue, Nunn Street, Ashtons Green Drive and the Horseshoe roundabout, Parr.

Funding has already gone into shopping centres at Sutton Village, Cambridge Road, Rainhill Village, Billinge, Earlestown, Thatto Heath, Four Acre and the town centre.

Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “Our network of local shopping centres is essential and provides easily accessible facilities to meet the community’s day to day needs.

“They provide a good focal point for investment in accessible local services such as health centres, small-scale commercial and shopping requirements.”

The funding follows a report examining local shopping centres and the closure of stores, which was due to go before the council’s cabinet yesterday.

The report states: “The bigger picture shows that the retailing decline has been fuelled by the long recession which has coincided with rapid growth in online sales.”

It adds that the loss of 1,300 jobs at St Helens Council has potentially taken £32 million from the local economy, while a 20 per cent reduction in benefit payments and the bedroom tax have all hit spending power.

This has reduced the “viability” of some retailers and led to closures. The growth of discount stores has hit “middle-priced” clothes stores and major retailers are also cutting back on their number of stores, which is affecting less affluent areas such as St Helens.

The report stressed it was important to encourage people living in areas such as Billinge, Rainford, Newton and Rainhill – which all border other towns – to shop within their communities.

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