£11m town centres support welcomed
The announcement of £11million to support town centres across Northern Ireland in their recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been welcomed locally.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will administer their share of the funding in their respective areas.
The Department for Communities (DfC) is investing £10m in the Capital Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Scheme which will be used in larger town and city centres with a further £1m coming from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to be used for smaller settlements.
The funding will be allocated to the local government authorities in two tranches to deliver measures that will help provide a safe environment for visitors, shoppers and workers within town centres.
The measures may include shop frontage and awnings/canopies; outdoor furniture; heaters queueing systems; PA/tannoy and digital screens, and other signage.
An initial £6m for immediate interventions has been allocated to the 11 councils in the province.
The remaining £5m from the Department for Communities will issue later in the year, and will be used to address medium to longer-term measures such as minor public realm or environmental improvements, the adaptation of gap sites or vacant premises for meanwhile use or pop-up spaces, or provision of lighting schemes.
South Antrim MP Paul Girvan said the funding was a much-needed boost during the emergency recovery.
The DUP representative said: “For some considerable time, I have been lobbying the Northern Ireland Executive for a support package for our town centres in South Antrim who have been badly hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“South Antrim is very fortunate to have four fantastic town centres that offer an invaluable service to our community and provide vital employment opportunities.
“Having spoken with traders across Ballyclare, Antrim, Randalstown and Crumlin I was determined to ensure we secured funding to support them during these difficult times.
“I am delighted that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will be the vehicle to deliver this funding to ensure bespoke funding packages are delivered in each of the towns to meet the unique needs of the local community.
“I am determined to work with local businesses across South Antrim and the council to ensure this money is spent on programmes and projects that attract shoppers back to our streets and supports employment for the local community.”
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