Last month, St Helens Borough was selected as one of 70 local authority areas to receive support from a High Streets Task Force which is chaired by influential entrepreneur Sir John Timpson and made up of place making experts who provide the guidance, tools and skills needed to help local councils, communities and partners plan for transformation of their high streets.
The council was required to select one town or district centre within the borough to receive support to overcome challenges and unlock potential, with Earlestown the chosen location. As the High Streets Task Force is very much about advice and sharing learning experiences from elsewhere, information can then be taken to help improve other areas of the borough.
Rich in history and heritage, Earlestown has a popular market dating back around 700 years which attracts thousands of visitors each year and work is already planned to bring its iconic town hall – where The Beatles one played – back into use.
Local business owner Marc Faulkner, owner of Kopi Coffee on Market Street, Earlestown, and nearby Newton Deli on Wargrave Road, Newton-le-Willows, has been invited to contribute to the High Street Task Force ‘Unlocking Your Place Potential’ workshop as a business representative alongside other stakeholders.
Marc, who invested in Kopi Coffee last year, saving the popular café from closure, said:
“Earlestown often gets forgotten about as a town centre but there have been a number of local independent businesses open up here over the years and you can really see the potential, which is something we’re wanting to build on.
“We know how appealing the night-time economy and hospitality sector is, which is the way many town and city centres seem to be going to attract visitors to their area – but perhaps the offer could be stronger here in Earlestown which is something I’ll be bringing forward to the group.
“As someone who is passionate about local business and community spirit, I’m looking forward to working with stakeholders and the council on this task force initiative to breathe new life back into our high streets which is the heartbeat of any town centre.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said: “Our borough is home to two town centres that, as a council, we are more than committed to improving to make them attractive places to live, work and visit.
“We recognise the need within our regeneration strategies to look wider than St Helens Town Centre, where work and resources are ongoing, to the district centres that are important to our communities and crucial to prosperity across the borough.
“Therefore we’re using the resources available to us through the High Street Task Force to focus on Earlestown Town Centre, to build on its strengths as a bustling district centre, rich in heritage and potential. This decision will inform and complement the reshaping and regeneration of Earlestown Town Centre masterplan which we’re excited to share in the coming months.”