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Council to Invest £500,000 in Recovery and Tourism

As we emerge from the pandemic, South Hams District Council is considering creating a half a million pound fund to support the economic recovery of its main towns and the visitor economy.

Pub with outdoor seating licence

With the Government's phased road map to recovery now laid clear, supporting a safe economic recovery for the District's 5 main towns is a top priority for the District Council. 

With many people expected to choose a staycation in the UK this year, South Hams is keen to provide its main towns with the support they need to deliver an excellent and safe tourist experience that follows the Government roadmap out of lockdown.

The tourism industry in the South Hams is estimated to be worth about £260 million. It is anticipated that 'summer 2021' will begin at Easter and although the main restrictions on holiday stays are not lifted until 12 April, all expectations are that by this point visitor numbers will be present in record numbers.

Therefore, South Hams District Council is proposing to use £500,000 of Government funding from the money earmarked for strategic economic recovery projects and business support to fund some key initiatives this spring and summer. The Council could also use some of its own reserves (funding options are to be discussed at Council on 25 March).

These include an enhanced street cleaning and litter picking service, with additional officers to ensure that the streets and beaches remain safe for the public by extending the COVID compliance officers. These Officers  have been supporting businesses to operate safely. A match funding scheme to support the towns with projects that will enhance their key areas and support businesses in the towns is also proposed.

By extending pavement licences for a further 12 months, the Council propose to act on Government advice to support the reopening of hospitality businesses.  Making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make al fresco dining a reality with outside seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks. 

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council Said: "Over the next few months as we come out of lockdown, we are going to have to strike a delicate balance. We need to promote and encourage the recovery of our tourism sector, while at the same time enabling our businesses to operate in a safe and secure way.

"These proposals will provide a range of extra support and resources that will support that recovery as we follow the Government's steps to reopening.  For that reason this fund will provide a mixture of physical support, such as street cleaning, advice and guidance from extra staffing and funding for marketing." 

A report laying out the proposals will be discussed by South Hams District Council on 25 March.  It explains how the additional funding will be spent and suggests that these additional measures should begin from the 1 April and last until mid-September.

Cllr Judy Pearce added: "We recognise the important role that the 5 main towns in South Hams play in supporting the Tourism sector and the wider economy. This is why the Council is proposing the creation of a Town High Street Investment Fund. Each Town will be able to bid for 50:50 match funding of up to a maximum £50,000 per town for the five main towns.

"With this and the other Town marketing activities we are proposing, I am hopeful for a very good summer.  So many of our hospitality businesses have suffered terribly during the pandemic and I hope that this will be the beginning of their much needed recovery."

You can read the committee report 'Investing in South Hams Economic Recovery' in the Agenda on 25 March 2021, by following the links here: www.southhams.gov.uk/Full-Council

Issued: 18 March 2021

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