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West Sussex to receive £50m government funding

Councils across West Sussex will be given a share of a £50m government fund to help local businesses re-open safely.


The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund was set up to help councils introduce a range of safety measures to get people back to work and customers back to the shops


More than £750,000 of that money – which comes from the European Regional Development Fund – will be given to West Sussex.


Arun District Council will receive £143,718, while Chichester District Council will get £108,161.


Councils won’t actually be given the cash.


They will have to apply to the government for reimbursement from the fund – up to their designated amounts – by March 2021, with the details laid out in a Funding Agreement which should be ready by the end of June.


A spokesman for Arun, said the money would be spent on new signs, street markings and temporary barriers, among other things, with businesses set to benefit on the seafront and promenades as well as the high streets.


Leader, Cllr Dr James Walsh said the money was ‘extremely welcome’, adding: “These shops and businesses are vital to our economy and the grant money will help us as a council to better support them as we follow government guidance through the recovery phase of this pandemic.”


Conservative leader Shaun Gunner said the money was ‘excellent news’ for Arun – but wanted assurances that it would be fairly divided throughout the district.


He added: “There is a long way to go but this is an important early step in making our high streets fit for purpose at this time.


“For me, the test will be whether this money is distributed fairly across all of Arun, so Bognor, Littlehampton, Arundel, Rustington etc all get their fair share.

“I’ve already written to the chief executive of the council requesting that the money is allocated fairly, as well as to request we work with local traders in whatever we do.”


As part of the plans to ease the lock-down, the Prime Minister said this week that non-essential shops would be allowed to open from June 15.


One use for the money could be to develop local marketing campaigns, reassuring the public that shops are safe and explaining the changes put in place.


A spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “At the moment we are still looking into the details of what we can claim for, and then we will be working with our partners to see how we can best utilise the fund to support our high streets.”


By Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter


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