Birmingham’s town centre managers set for the axe with have been handed an extra six months funding and a council pledge to seek longer-term support.
The 11 town centre managers, who were recruited to transform high Streets and turn around ailing shopping centres, faced losing their jobs in April, as the Birmingham Post revealed on Thursday.
They were funded through the Government’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund, which is being axed.
But city regeneration Timothy Huxtable has now found £400,000 to keep them working until the end of October and is in talks with various organisations about ongoing funding.
Coun Huxtable (Con Bournville) said: “Town centre managers do have a significant impact on the vibrancy and success of a local centre. It is true the Working Neighbourhood Fund is coming to an end and our constituencies had no funding to support them.
“But I have found a pot of money, set aside to improve the economy of Birmingham, which will be used to fund them at least until October. My department is taking over responsibility for them. That gives us time to find a sustainable long term finance.”
Already Erdington and Kings Heath are expected to use their Business Improvement District, or BID, status to raise funding to keep the managers on through local business rates. The city centre BIDs already pay for full time managers.
While three new managers are being hired in Witton, Soho Road and Hodge Hill using money given by Tesco and Morrisons as a spin off from new supermarket developments.
“Improving our vibrant urban villages is a clear policy aim of the council and town centre managers have a clear role to play in that,” Coun Huxtable added.
The managers have been responsible for launching campaigns, such as Shop Local, in Kings Heath and Moseley, Acocks Green, Harborne and Sutton Coldfield and have helped turn many vacant boarded up high street units into thriving shops.
Mark Eftichou, chairman of Moseley Business Association who works at Moseley Travel in Alcester Road, said: “We’ve been working very closely with our town centre manager Nikki Carr,” he said. “
She’s played a very important role in reviving the business association, accessing retail grants and pushing our plans for a Business Improvement District.”