During the 2019 election campaign, I said I would fight hard for investment to revitalise our two local town centres, Burton and Uttoxeter. Town centres across the UK are having to adapt as they compete with online shopping and following the coronavirus pandemic. Our town centres remain vital places for shopping but also for community cohesion and a place to meet with friends and family. I am working with local leaders and colleagues in Westminster to deliver improvements for both our town centres.
Burton town centre, like many high streets across England, has suffered from a decline in footfall and increased online shopping exacerbated over the last year with the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.
Burton has been awarded £22 million as part of the Government’s Town Deal Fund, to invest and regenerate the town centre. Examples of the Burton Town Board proposals include:
- enhancing historic buildings in Burton town centre;
- establishing a new regional learning centre to improve local skills and development training prospects; and
- building a Washlands bicycle and pedestrian bridge to encourage more people to visit the town centre.
Proposals put forward by the Town Deal Board are about to go to public consultation to ensure that residents have their say on the future of our town centre. I will continue to work with local councillors and the Town Deal Board to ensure that residents are fully included in the decision process, and can be proud of the investments made in our town centre.
Uttoxeter is a historic market town that maintains its classic market town character but like Burton has seen a decline in footfall in recent years. From my recent Town Regeneration Survey, there is strong public support for sites such as the Maltings to be redeveloped and East Staffordshire Borough Council's Uttoxeter Masterplan highlights other locations which could benefit from investment. ESBC is undertaking further consultation with residents to ensure they can have their input as proposals are brought together.
The Government’s Levelling Up Fund has been identified as a possible means for funding any improvement plans for Uttoxeter. I will continue to work with local councillors as plans are formulated, and we consider a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to secure the cash required to deliver improvements to the town.