Seaham traders bid for cash to turn the town around

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CAMPAIGNERS aiming to revive a town’s fortunes are doubling their chances.

In addition to a bid for cash and support from retail expert Mary Portas, Seaham businesses are gearing up to apply for a lottery windfall of between £50,000 and £2million.

The application deadline for the Portas Pilot is at the end of the month, while a case will be made to the Big Lottery’s Coastal Communities Fund by March 25.

The latest funding pot was discovered by People Acumen, which has offered its support. The secondary bid was backed at a packed meeting of Seaham Business Forum.

It hopes it can put forward an argument to secure the full lottery funding as well as £100,000 through the Government scheme.

However, the forum has said it is not simply focusing on the chance of funds but the aim of improving the area’s prospects.

The group’s chairman Gary Hepple, who runs Garage on the Green and has business interests in Seaham, said: “If we can bring these two things together, get the Portas Pilot application off as well as this similar application, we can use this money to make a difference.

“We need to make sure we start to revitalise the town centre.

“It’s about how we can help the next generation of our business community.

“We’ve acquired the knowledge to run our businesses, we can show and tell others about it.”

A contingent of business bosses headed to Bolton on Monday to take part in a workshop giving guidance to ensure the applications hit the mark.

A video will also be made and uploaded to online video website YouTube as part of the Portas project, which is being headed by the broadcaster and businesswoman as part of a Government effort to save the country’s high streets.

Plans for a calendar of events to draw in shoppers are also under way.

An Easter egg hunt is lined up for Saturday, April 7, and a fashion show, which will pit the styling skills of Byron Place against Church Street stores, is pencilled in for June.

Other ideas include a Queen’s Jubilee street party, an event to mark American Independence Day, a party on the prom, specialised markets and Christmas events.

The next meeting of the campaign group takes place tonight at 6pm in the Duke of Seaham.

The full forum will also meet at Seahma Hall on Tuesday, March 20, at 6pm.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham