Council pulls support for the High Street Foundation

Date published: 26 June 2015

Rochdale Council has withdrawn its support for the High Street Foundation giving notice that it will no longer be servicing the group.

The Council said: “It was always the intention that the Council would help establish and support the Foundation in the early days and that it would gradually become self-sufficient and this is the approach we have taken in the other three townships and has worked well, particularly with Middleton Town Team, who have just secured some external funding on the back of them becoming a wholly independent constituted body.”

Launched in a blaze of publicity in 2012 - with Levi Roots being paid an astonishing £7,000 to deliver a short speech at the launch event - the High Street Foundation aim was to create a new, sustainable high street for Rochdale.

The key aspects of the foundation were outlined by Pam Smith, then an Executive Director of Rochdale Council. These included: 'offering one-to-one support and master classes to businesses, bidding to be part of the Mary Portas Pilot [two bids both failed], a purple flag assessment looking into the night time economy of Rochdale, addressing the perception of the borough, establishing specialty markets, running an ambassadors scheme and having a retail investment strategy.'

The chairman and vice-chairman of the Foundation say they are determined the group will continue to meet. 

Chairman, Paul Clark said: “The High Street Foundation is not coming to an end. It will be moving forward but without the help of the council.

“We have made real progress in the town and it is about working together to continue that progress.”

High Street Foundation vice chairman, Greg Couzens added: “It definitely has to run independently and there is a need for it in the town.

"I think if people think it is council led then it steers them away from it and it is separate from the council, it is a group of businesses coming together for the good of the town centre.

“The High Street Foundation has to continue and we won’t let it die.”

Mark Widdup, Director of Economy and Environment at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We fully expect the High Street Foundation to continue and will provide a room and refreshments, as well as attending meetings by invitation to update on specific projects when required.”

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