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Cash setback won't wreck retail vision for Wincanton high street

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: August 04, 2012

Wincanton Town Team members John Holman, Jenny Holt, Katie Petre-Mears, David Norris and Helen Rutter are determined to work together for the benefit of the town.

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Spirited traders in Wincanton have vowed to carry out their vision despite falling short in their bid for £100,000.

Wincanton had applied for a second tranche of Government funding, backed by retail guru Mary Portas, designed to rejuvenate UK high streets.

However, despite not being named as one of the beneficiaries of the scheme, traders in Wincanton still hope to carry out their plans.

Town team member and south Somerset district councillor, David Norris, said: “I’m obviously a bit disappointed but the competition was fierce and you’re never entirely sure what the judges are looking for.

“We gave them all the information we thought they would want but just fell short. We’re now going to press on with our ideas and work to improve Wincanton.”

John Smith, chairman of Wincanton Businesses Together, believes the traders can be proud of themselves despite the funding setback.

He said: “The town team would be crazy not to be disappointed. They have worked so hard. But I think they’ve done amazingly well and should be very proud of their work.

“While it would have been nice to get this funding, what is excellent about their plans is that they can still be executed.

“It may take a bit more innovative thinking but it can be done. The funding would have been the icing on the cake.

“We’ve got a team together that cares about the town and our high street, and I’ve got every confidence that they will make a big difference in Wincanton.

“We want to encourage the people in Wincanton to be part of the solution and get behind the team to help the continued improvement of our town.”

The town team will now bid for a slice of a £100,000 High Street Innovation Fund received by South Somerset District Council.

A third of the £100,000 has been allocated to Yeovil, but with two-thirds still up for grabs, traders are keen to apply for the grant to get the town’s proposed weekly market off the ground.

The team has outlined the car park at Carrington Way as a possible location for the market for a six-month pilot period.

Mr Norris said: “We are desperate to get the weekly market up and running as soon as possible. We have come across no obstacles, so it’s just a case of getting the right permissions, talking to the market organisations and deciding on the best time to launch.

“Wincanton has so much to offer and we have an amazing amount of untapped potential here.

“A weekly market could increase the town’s footfall, which would have a knock-on effect on all of the high street traders.”

The district council was given the £100,000 High Street Innovation Funding award by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The stated purpose of the funding is “to support empty properties on the High Street”.

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