£167,000 has been awarded to market towns across Shropshire to help them attract and encourage visitors, following the easing of lockdown measures.
£117,000 has been split between seven towns that have been impacted by both coronavirus and by flooding earlier in the year, with Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Oswestry, Market Drayton, Whitchurch and Shifnal receiving funding of varying amounts to support marketing-led initiatives and projects.
And a further £50,000 of funding has been split between Shropshire’s smaller market towns, following an open competition, in which grants of up to £5,000 were available.
Funding has now been awarded to Bishop’s Castle, Ellesmere, Much Wenlock, Church Stretton, Cleobury Mortimer, Clun, Broseley, Wem and Craven Arms.
Projects range from activities to improve the visitor experience and the presentation of town centres, to online social media campaigns designed to raise awareness of what individual towns have to offer.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said:
“We know all too well the devastating impact that flooding and coronavirus have had on market towns. Now, as lockdown measures are eased and visitors start to return to our town centres, I’m really pleased that we can make this funding available to our market towns to help them attract visitors, in line with the latest social distancing guidance.”
The money has been made available through the Marches LEP’s Marches Investment Fund and can be used to support innovative projects that will attract visitors and drive confidence and footfall.
Projects on which the money will be spent include:
Will use its grant funding to support the Shrewsbury’s Open campaign. This highly visual campaign has a fun and colourful identity to create a festival atmosphere around the town and on the main website. The town is dressed with banners, flags and signage with posters provided for businesses to show their support. Improvements to the public realm have been made on Victoria Quay, and welcome signs put up at Wyle Cop.
Funding will be used to enhance the appearance of Oswestry through cleaning of major pedestrian areas and pavements in the town centre, painting of street furniture, improvements to lighting and seating areas, plus updating and replacing the town maps. New Oswestry town map leaflets and better promotion of the town using social media will help to increase local footfall and encourage visitors from a larger catchment.
The town will develop its successful Love Ludlow brand to reach more visitors, increase footfall and encourage visitors to stay longer in the area. It will create a digital marketing strategy to promote what Ludlow has to offer and use travel bloggers to visit and write about their experiences in Ludlow.
Bridgnorth is looking to invest substantial funds in improving the town’s street scene including a deep clean and replacement of street furniture. It will enhance its central green spaces that are linked to major visitor attractions such as Severn Valley Railway and the River Severn. A co-ordinated marketing campaign will raise awareness, encourage visitors and promote events in the run up to Christmas.
Shifnal Town Council is actively developing a digital strategy to improve its social media visibility and promote its hotel and hospitality sector, leisure and retail facilities and other local businesses.
The town proposes a pedestrianised area on Cheshire Street to create a pavement-style culture that will attract visitors and increase dwell time in the town centre. It hopes this will provide the opportunity to run further market and street events.
“Love Where You Live #ShopWhitchurch” will be a branded social media campaign, with money off voucher offers designed to bring local people back into the town Whitchurch Town Council will work with businesses to support the digital campaign to increase footfall and retail leisure spend.
Ellesmere is commissioning an illustrated map highlighting heritage buildings, areas of interest and town facilities, to be located at various points around town.
A highly imaginative Elephant Art Trail around the town and surrounding area is central to Bishop’s Castle’s project. It will enhance the visitor experience, engage with more visitors and bring in more people to the town and countryside through increased marketing and promotions.
A new video will be produced showing the full Much Wenlock visitor offer. This will be used in an extensive social media campaign. Funds will also be used for improved tourism signage on principle approach roads, and on training and coaching for small businesses.
Church Stretton’s funding will create marketing assets, including a video to showcase the town’s visitor offer, retail and hospitality venues. It will also help to create a new picnic area and wayfinding fingerpost signage around the town.
The development of the town’s Wells area into a heritage project and visitor attraction will increase the things to see in Cleobury Mortimer, increase footfall and dwell time and generate spend in cafes and shops.
Wem has proposed a large scale initiative to dress its high street in order to improve the presentation and enhance the visitor experience. This will be supported by a marketing campaign to encourage people to use the town centre more.
The focus in Clun will be on the town’s produce market, which will receive facilities upgrades, improvements to the car parking and exterior areas, stall rental holidays and increased marketing. The aim is to increase local shopping from local residents and visitors.
Craven Arms Town Council is aiming to instil confidence in the town centre, encourage footfall, improve access and provide a COVID-19-secure environment for local people and visitors. Initiatives include outdoor local produce markets during October and November, partnership events with Craven Arms Youth Forum, festive events and Christmas lights, and joint admissions offers with third party attractions such as Stokesay Castle and Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre.
A revitalisation of the high street is at the heart of Broseley’s initiative, including improved street furniture, tourism information boards and footpath enhancements.