Mary Portas cash for toilets and improving nightime economy
By Victoria Smith
April 02, 2012
Boosting Woodley’s nighttime economy, taking advantage of smartphone technology and replacing public toilets are just some of the ideas that could benefit from town centre funding.
A bid for up to £100,000 to benefit Woodley from the Government’s Portas Pilot Towns scheme is due to be submitted this week.
Wokingham Borough Council has been gathering people’s views in Woodley and Wokingham so it can submit bids for each town with ideas on how the money would be spent to improve the area.
In Woodley, the Town Centre Management Initiative (TCMI) has been discussing how the money could benefit the nighttime economy, encourage better use of smartphone technology by having web links promoting offers in shops signposted in the town and replacing public toilets.
The town’s public loos were removed as a cost-cutting measure in 2009 and have been replaced with a scheme encouraging businesses to allow non-customers to use their facilities.
Councillor Beth Rowland, chairman of Woodley Town Council, said: “There are a huge amount of issues in and around the town centre because of the lack of toilets.
“It creates problems specifically for families with young children and disabled people.”
Conservative councillor Keith Baker said creating a more fruitful nighttime economy in Woodley to mirror the success of Wokingham would give residents more choice.
He said: “If you take Wokingham, you get there at 6pm and there are restaurants and pubs. Woodley has cafes but we don’t have any restaurants and we can see a lot of benefit if we can generate a nighttime economy.”
Cllr Baker said local entrepreneurs could also be given a helping hand with small pop-up stores in Headley Road for seasonal and start-up businesses.
The Government is looking for 12 Portas Pilot Towns to share the £1 million funding to test ideas for creating vibrant town centres that will be successful in the long-term.
To be successful, bids will have to show they have the backing of local residents, traders, businesses and landowners and show they could be used elsewhere in the country.
The bids need to be submitted by Friday.