Agenda item

High Street Regeneration Post Covid Evaluation


Having read the High Street Regeneration post Covid-19 evaluation report in the agenda pack, Members were invited to ask questions / seek clarification as necessary.


In response to Members’ questions regarding ULEZ and its potential impact on the high street, it was stressed that the paper captured activity undertaken from August 2021 until March 2022 hence ULEZ expansion announced in November 2022 was not directly relevant to the report being presented. It was anticipated that a new Economic Development Manager post would be recruited to – in terms of ULEZ, the new staff member would be able to build on the platform of the activity funded through the Welcome Back Fund once in post.


Members sought clarity regarding the Welcome Back Events set out in the agenda pack. It was confirmed that the Hayes Town Centre Canal Festival had taken place after the Welcome Back funding had finished and had been held by the Canal and River Trust directly hence the footfall figures were shown as TBC in the pack. With regard to the successful Pumpkin Festival in Ryefield Avenue, Members were informed that this had been funded via unspent European Development funding which was no longer available.


Members heard that, further to the Welcome Back Events, businesses had been provided with a template for planning future events and had been offered support and further training including digital workshops. High-level Boroughwide data had been captured in relation to the Welcome Back Events which had taken place.


It was noted that larger centres such as Uxbridge were still suffering from the large concentration of offices and Headquarters not being fully occupied allied with limited commuting from hybrid office working and needed more support. Members heard that officers were active in sourcing external funding and an example was given of HS2 Business & Local Economy funding being sought to initiate a community shop in Harefield and promotional events in some other town centres impacted by HS2 construction.


Members sought further clarification from officers in respect of how the funding had been used, noting that some town centres were still struggling post-pandemic – a lot of shops were empty, and things had not returned to normal in many cases. It was emphasised that the money allocated for the Welcome Back initiative had been European Regional Development Funding; the Council had not entered into a competitive funding bid for this as it had been unallocated funding earmarked for all England Local Authorities. It was further stressed that the funding could not be used to support individuals and there had been no requirement to evidence and achieve outputs in the usual way. The project had been set up at short notice and had only lasted six months as activity could not continue post March 2022. Some Members expressed a view that the initiative had lacked ambition and were reminded of the specific parameters associated with the Welcome Back Fund initiative. It was confirmed that the Council would continue to be ambitious in driving business forward in the future.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the range of bespoke promotional events and initiatives tailored to the feedback from business and residents within the high streets and associated outputs achieved by the London Borough of Hillingdon utilising the Welcome Back fund grant.

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