A scheme to improve one of Southport’s retail areas has taken another significant step forward after delays due to the pandemic threatened to derail it.
The plan aims to pull together the residential and commercial aspects of Bispham Road in High Park by creating more of a ‘village feel’ to it.
It’s hoped that this in turn will help boost local businesses and also promote more neighbourhood pride and community cohesion.
The idea is being spearheaded by Norwood Ward’s Labour councillors who are working with local traders, residents and community groups to move things forward once again after the Covid Crisis put the plan on hold.
Local councillor Greg Myers is leading on the project and says he’s delighted that the scheme is finally back on track after a meeting this week saw it receive a very positive response.
He said: “I’ve long felt that Bispham Road needed a bit of TLC and so am really pleased to be leading on this, with the support of my colleagues Cllr Mhairi Doyle and Cllr Carran Waterfield. Last year I contacted local businesses and spoke to various residents and they were very much behind the idea of trying to create more of a village feel to the area.
“We also started discussions with The High Park Project, which has been really supportive. The Covid situation soon stopped everything in its tracks but by August I’d begun work on forming the Bispham Road Improvement Group (BRIG) to bring together all these valuable inputs and ensure this project is truly rooted in our community.
“As councillors though we felt it was important to get the ball rolling, so we agreed to fund a number of large planters to be placed at several key spots and The High Park Project kindly agreed to match fund our contribution to assist in this.
“This was a big step as we were acutely aware that local traders and residents were going through a tough period and so didn’t want to put any funding expectations on anyone else.
“After identifying locations, I approached the relevant local businesses who all agreed to site them to help bring some life and colour to the area and improve the look of it. Then everything ground to a halt once again at that critical point.
“The continuing Covid problems meant that Natural Alternatives, who we commissioned to make the planters, also had to shut. We then also had the significant problem of the South African Covid variant being discovered in Norwood Ward.
“All in all, it’s been a difficult period to try and pull something like this together but thankfully things are now returning back to normality and enthusiasm for improving the area appears undiminished.
“If anything it seems there’s more desire for the project to succeed now judging by our first face-to-face meeting of the BRIG this week, which also saw local postmaster Dave Hartley appointed as Chair.
“Natural Alternatives are now also back in full swing and in their new workshop based at Botanic Gardens, so we are aiming to see the first of our planters installed next month.
“We are also heartened that many local traders have now agreed to add to this by also putting smaller planters and hanging baskets outside their premises to help add to the village vibe and hope that more traders and residents will be keen to get involved with the scheme.
“Once this happens we will be looking to see what else can be done to make Bispham Road more of a focal point for both commercial and community activity and to help the area thrive post-pandemic.”
Anyone keen to help can email Cllr Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call into Bispham Road Post Office and speak to Dave Hartley, or contact Joe McNulty at the High Park Project.