Birkenhead Market traders have been supported over the last 18 months to the tune of more than £2 million to help them through the pandemic and as the regeneration of central Birkenhead moves forward.
A combination of rent relief, compensation for new leases and Government support for businesses delivered through the council has seen the traders receive significant support since the pandemic began in March 2020.
At the same time the council and partners have been moving apace to progress the redevelopment of the town centre to meet business and residents’ needs, while making sure throughout the process the Market remains open for business.
Figures released this week show Market traders have received £624,199 to compensate them for transferring to new leases as the council moves ahead with ambitious plans to revamp Birkenhead town centre including building a new market which will be at the heart of the regeneration.
In addition, during the pandemic and the national lockdowns, traders received Rent Relief which included three months rent-free and a further six months with a 50% reduction, at a cost to council taxpayers of £276,000.
This funding is in addition to the business support from the Government totalling £1,270,694 which was distributed through the council, and the support has been despite the strain on council finances which have seen all services scrutinised for possible savings.
The town centre plans are part of the wider Birkenhead 2040 Framework, a twenty-year blueprint which sets out the most radical proposals for the town since the 1947 Town Plan which will see Birkenhead’s revitalised town centre re-connected with the amazing opportunities along the Mersey waterfront, and will make the most of the town’s iconic heritage and buildings.
The 2040 Framework is also a key element of the wider Local Plan for Wirral which sets out how the borough will meet it housing and employment land needs in the coming years with a focus on the regeneration of the “left bank” of the peninsula.
Alan Evans, Wirral’s Council’s Director of Place and Regeneration, said, “We are at the start of an ambitious but real strategy for the major regeneration of a significant part of the borough, from New Ferry along to New Brighton. And from the outset, the very first thing we wanted to ensure for the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre, was that the Market would be at the very centre of what we do.
“Recent years have seen a steady decline in the Market’s fortunes, the number of traders has dwindled to around 70, the building doesn’t meet the needs of traders or customers and it has needed a re-boot.
“But we know Birkenhead Market is unique, it has the capacity to once again attract customers from far and wide, and with the right help and investment it will.
“What we are doing now is moving the current traders to a temporary site and working with them to ensure they can continue trading during the redevelopment of the Market. This will be for the duration of the time that the current building is demolished and a new bespoke market building put up in its place to put the Market at the core of the town once again.”