Cannock Chase Council received a £179,245 share of the £56 million from the Government’s Welcome Back Fund (WBF) last year. The funding aimed to support the safe return of visitors back into local high streets and help build back better from the pandemic.
The funding provided was to boost the look and feel of high streets and town centres and make them more welcoming. Holding events and publicity campaigns to boost footfall and support local businesses, install signage and communications about staying safe and preventing the spread of Covid-19, improve communal places and plant flowers.
The funding, which had to be fully spent by 31 March 2022, has been fully utilised and spread across the various seven WBF eligible areas of the District, including our town centres and surrounding villages.
Councillor Mike Sutherland, Portfolio Leader for District Development said “It has been a very tough two years for the District’s town centre businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are very grateful for the funding from the Government. It has provided us with an opportunity to give our main town centres and surrounding villages a boost. Officers have worked hard with Parish and Town Councils to ensure that everyone received a share of the funding. They have all used their money in different ways, footfall has increased considerably, it has brought our communities together and improved the look of our District.”
Councillor Phil Hewitt, Portfolio Leader for Innovation and High Streets said “The funding received from the Government has been invaluable. When everything was able to re-open it ensured that our shoppers were kept safe. I am delighted that our officers and Town and Parish Councils have worked together to maximise the benefits of this funding. This gives us and them something to build on and bring our high streets back better than before.”
The funding helped the Council to provide District wide Covid-19 information boards and literature and hand sanitising units. The Council also launched a car parking discount scheme for shoppers in Cannock and Rugeley town centres.
Cannock Town Centre used the funding to hold three different events, with a Music Feast Event in September, which brought together residents and visitors of all ages together to enjoy a fun filled day. Walk in Street event in October and a Christmas Light Switch on event in November with real reindeers, Santa’s grotto and a large snow globe for family photo opportunities.
Rugeley Town Centre had a balloonist for an event in September, a Christmas film event in November and pantomime in December and Christmas tree light display.
Hednesford Town Centre used the funding for outdoor yoga sessions in the park, a temporary climbing wall hire, re-usable shopping bags, and a nutcracker trail, with large nutcracker figures placed around the high street. Large animatronic figures, stilt walkers at events and planters to brighten up the town centre.
Heath Hayes used the funding to replace two run down bus shelters, install notice boards and hanging baskets and hold two events: a lantern parade and Christmas event.
Norton Canes used the funding to hold a Christmas fayre, install planters and Christmas Lights and a family fun day event, complete with entertainment.
Chadsmoor used the money to install planters and a water butt, invest in litter pickers for community litter picking activities and bought street party packs,
Bridgtown used the funding to install planters, buy street party packs for family fun day events and pay for an Artisan Market.
The Government announced in April 2021 that it had launched a new £56m Welcome Back Fund (WBF) which followed on from the existing Re-opening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF). The Welcome Back Fund is part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which was made available to local authorities by the Government as part of the response to Covid-19.
The Council’s allocation from both funds’ totals £179,245 and this funding had to be fully spent by 31 March 2022.