Over 100 local businesses, regional property agents, investors, and other stakeholders with an interest in taking Southport forward were brought together last week by Southport BID for an investment forum.
Southport has been hit hard, not helped by recent announcements of further store closures, and the town will take time to recover. However, the event was designed to focus on the positives, the investment that’s already happened, and the millions of pounds that could potentially come to the town from funding applications already in the pipeline and from private sector investors.
Speakers at the event included the Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, and members of his investment team; Sarah Kemp, Executive Director, Sefton Council; Caroline Baker from property specialists Cushman Wakefield; Dr Steve Millington from The BID Foundation; and Rob Agsteribbi from Bliss Investments.
Rob Uffendell, Chair of the BID, says:
“It’s clear that Southport, our town, is experiencing the same sort of issues that are facing many other towns and cities across the country. So, we’re not alone in having to face up to some really significant challenges.
“Our speakers consistently highlighted the big advantages that helps set us apart from our competitors. Our reputation as a significant coastal destination is increasing year on year (as demonstrated by the annual rise in visitor numbers). We have some unique assets in our town.
“We’ve already seen a lot of investment in our town. And we have dedicated partners from both the private and public sector who are determined to get things done.
“There is evidence from around the UK that those areas with BIDs in place are more successful in attracting external funding because it demonstrates a strong partnership between the private and public sectors and a willingness to work together”.
Delegates raised the issue of parking and the need for more flexibility in setting tariffs. Improving east – west transport links and doing more to increase residential living in the town centre were also highlighted.
Rob Uffendell continued: “Southport was described as a speciality town with plenty of opportunities for development.
“Attracting investment is hard work as was made clear by our speakers. All of them were clear on one thing: there are huge opportunities for this town but to get it right we need to demonstrate confidence and pride in what we have.
“That said, many of the solutions raised at the event have been talked about for years. If we’re going to take this town forward and make things happen, it’s time for action and not words”.