£10,000 plan to regenerate Somerton and promote tourism
Plans to spend £10,000 regenerating Somerton and promoting tourism have been drawn up by the town council.
The council is bidding for half the amount from the Market Town Investment Group (MTIG) funding, which was devised by the celebrity retail guru Mary Portas to boost flagging high streets and town centres.
The funds are administered by South Somerset District Council.
The town council would then match the sum to carry out three phases of work that were agreed in principle on Tuesday.
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The first phase would improve signs in central car parks following a number of appeals from shoppers and visitors who had received parking fines due to confusion over length-of-stay restrictions.
The junction of the Unicorn Car Park with the Brewery Bridge would also be improved under the scheme after councillors identified it as a problematic area for both pedestrians and drivers.
Margaret Chambers, chairman of the accessibility and highways committee, told councillors these two phases were ready to begin and could be carried out this summer.
And a third phase would improve the “dilapidated state” of the Gateway signs that welcome people into Somerton.
Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Chambers said: “Our aim is to apply for £5,000 through MTIG in order to upgrade our business ventures within the centre of town and encourage people to use our shops.
“No decision whatsoever as to what the gateway signs will look like has been made.
“This is an opportunity to mull over our image in order to encourage people into the centre of town.
“It’s a question of how do we see ourselves after 10 years of the current signage and after 10 years of our town’s development. It’s also about how we want visitors to see us.”
Mrs Chambers advised the council to set up a group with members from all committees to work on the gateway signs over the coming months.
She showed councillors examples of signs in other towns, which included ideas for a speed warning and an information bar to picture what facilities the town has.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Councillor Ian Neale said he felt money should also be spent on improving the appearance of town shops.
Mr Neale told councillors: “We want something simple that sends a clear message.
“The signs are supposed to attract you into the town and make you enjoy your experience.
“But if there’s boarded up shops, that’s not good for that message. The money can be spent wider and across several margins if we really want it to.”
The council agreed to put forward the bid with the three phases before the deadline on March 22.
The decision on funding is due before the end of April.