(Report to follow).
The Chairman invited Councillor K. May who was present in her role as Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships to introduce the Bromsgrove Centres Action Plan 2021-2022. During the introduction Councillor May explained that it had not been possible to recruit to the role of Town Centres Manager and therefore the Council had engaged an events management company, Blackberry Productions, to provide a full events programme in the District over the coming months. Members were assured that the recruitment process for the Bromsgrove Town Centres Manager role would continue and once completed, the long-term strategy would be for the new Bromsgrove Town Centres Manager to go back out to key local centres and consult with key local stakeholders
The Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration reported that a Business Support Advisor had been recruited in the interim to cover some of the work previously undertaken by the Bromsgrove Town Centres Manager. It was explained that this would include working with local businesses in order to help them to reopen after the pandemic in a safe and resilient way. It was planned that the Business Support Advisor would be available to assist with local businesses across all sectors. The Board was informed that, during the pandemic, consumer behaviours had changed, and online shopping had hugely increased. He confirmed to Members that work in this area would be particularly important over the coming months for the Business Support Advisor.
Councillor S. Baxter queried the plan in respect of the consultation that had already taken place within the local centres. Councillor Baxter stated that she was not aware of any engagement that had taken place in Wythall which was one of the largest centres in the District. It was felt that going back out to local centres was an important part of the Action Plan and needed to be carried out as soon as possible. The Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure stated that she would be happy to meet with Members to discuss future opportunities within the key local centres and undertook to arrange a meeting.
Some Members were concerned with the condition of a number of the empty shops in Bromsgrove Town Centre and of the pavement along the High Street. There was agreement that more needed to be done in this respect to attract local spend. It was suggested that pop-up shops could be established to help with this. Councillor K. May explained that these kinds of plans were constantly being explored. However, it was reported some private shop owners did not want their vacant properties used in this way.
The Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration stated that there was still confidence in Bromsgrove Town Centre, and this was apparent with the recent investment at the former St. John’s Wine Rooms.
After lengthy debate Councillor S. Baxter proposed that a recommendation be made to Cabinet as follows:
‘that the Cabinet resolves to adopt the Bromsgrove Town Management Strategy – 2021 Action Plan and at the earliest opportunity that the relevant officers revisit the Town Centres to update the plan and offer support’.
On being put to the vote this recommendation was agreed.
RECOMMENDED that the Cabinet resolves to adopt the Bromsgrove Town Management Strategy – 2021 Action Plan and at the earliest opportunity that the relevant officers revisit the Town Centres to update the plan and offer support.