Call for consultation on how Havering high street £230,000 grant is spent

Cllr Keith Darvill

Cllr Keith Darvill - Credit: Archant

Government funding given to Havering Council should be spent wisely and in consultation with ward representatives, a councillor has warned.

This follows an announcement on March 20 that English high streets and seaside resorts will receive a grant to help them reopen safely this summer.

Havering is set to receive £231,058 from the government’s Welcome Back Funding, which is a £56 million grant to help councils improve local high streets, outdoor seating areas and green spaces.

Head of Havering Labour group Cllr Keith Darvill said: “It’s another one of these announcements which sounds good but in practice doesn’t make a great deal of difference.

“It sounds good but it really depends on what the council does with it.”

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The former MP for Havering claimed there had not been enough consultation with the wider council in the past, including recently when public toilets were removed from the borough.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell welcomed the Welcome Back Funding and said it had been an "enormously difficult time" for Havering high streets.

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He said: “Normally our high streets would be filled with people from across Essex and London, who come to Romford for some of the best and most vibrant shopping and hospitality in the region.”

The MP noted that restrictions on business activity had ground economic activity to a halt, with non-essential shops forced to close under the latest government lockdown.

He added: “ I’m delighted to see that Havering will receive funding as part of the Welcome Back Fund and will work closely with Government to see what more can be done to help Romford and Havering recover.”  

The announcement comes as some units on Havering’s high streets have closed permanently, including Harold Hill’s Band of Gold Jewellers and Santander bank. 

Shop closures in the UK hit record levels last year, with over twice as many net store closures in the first half of 2020 than the previous year, according to research by the Local Data Company. 

Band of Gold Jewellers sign

Band of Gold Jewellers in Harold Hill recently announced it wouldn't be reopening. - Credit: Sally Patterson

Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick MP said he was looking forward to making a safe and happy return to shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, and every pub in the country can erect garden marquees this summer.

He added: “As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.”

Havering Council leader Damian White was contacted for comment. 

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