Council funding helps Ottery traders smarten up their shopfronts

Shops and businesses in Ottery Town Centre are to get a facelift as they reopen after lockdown, following successful applications for grants to repair and improve their premises.

Philippa Davies www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

The town council made a fund of £10,000 available, and has been offering up to £500 towards maintenance and upgrading work, on condition that the business pays the same amount or more towards the total cost.

Several businesses applied for the funding by the initial deadline of June 14, and have been granted money towards work such as repairs, repainting, cleaning and new signage. Some also plan to add hanging baskets and other decorations.

More than £5,000 in total was allocated at the town council meeting on Monday, June 15. But the councillors were aware that not all traders had been aware of the scheme, because of the difficulties of publicising it during lockdown, and have extended the deadline until Saturday, July 4 to enable more businesses to benefit.

The next set of applications will go before the council’s meeting on Monday, July 6.

Cllr Dean Stewart, who is also chair of the Ottery Business Forum, said this would be the first of several schemes by the town council to help local traders recover from lockdown and make the most of the summer trade.

He said so far the town’s businesses have adapted well to the Covid-19 secure social distancing measures that were needed for them to reopen safely.

He said: “I think the shopkeepers were nervous to start with, but they’ve all got their processes in place now.

“There are one-way systems and lots of red and white tape saying ‘walk this way’, ‘wait here’ and ‘keep two metres apart’.

“Shopkeepers have been very responsible and are taking it very seriously, and people know they can confidently shop in Ottery.”

Meanwhile, eight jobs are being created by the opening of a new branch of Argos inside the Ottery St Mary branch of Sainsbury’s.

Argos already has a collection point in the supermarket in Hind Street.

Work is now underway to turn it into a digital store, scheduled to open in August this year, where customers buy items instore via a tablet, or collect items they have ordered online.