Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s £3 million High Streets Regeneration Fund was first announced in report C/19/21. It was established to support and help high streets in the district adapt for the future.
To date seven projects have received £146,000 between them and three high streets have benefited to date.
Cllr David Wimble is the Cabinet Member for the District Economy, as such the High Street Fund is part of his portfolio. The Council Officer responsible is Katharine Harvey (pictured), Chief Economic Development Officer.
The three million split is: £2.2 million for Folkestone; and £800,000 for the High Streets of: Cheriton; Sandgate; Hythe; New Romney; Lydd; Hawkinge; Dymchurch; Elham; Lyminge and Sellindge.
The High Street Fund provides grants between £5,000 and £50,000 towards any individual project, and in normal circumstances this is expected to comprise a maximum of 50% of the total project cost. However, in exceptional circumstances, and at its discretion, the Council may award 100% of the funding for a project.
At present there are 46 empty shops in Folkestone. In March 2019 there were 50. In Hythe there are eight empty shops at present. The images below are just show some of the empty shops.
On the 1st Oct 2019, the High Street Fund opened its doors and bids to the value of £503,728 or 17% of the £3 million have been evaluated. As of Thursday 16th January 2020, £146,000 had been allocated to seven projects.
To date six bids have bid approved and one Folkestone Town Council’s bid for thier CCTV expansion is waiting, pending more information. The successful bids have been from businesses and one town and one parish council.
This week, Cllr Wimble, Cllr Monk, Corporate Director John Bunnett, Katharine Harvey (pictured), Chief Economic Development Officer, plus ward Cllrs where bids have been made, will meet five times to decided upon five further bids submitted recently.
The fund will remain open for three years and is on a first come first serve basis. Once it’s gone, its gone.
Now we are deeply concerned, with Cllr Wimble presence on the panel. The fact he is Cabinet Member for the District Economy is also worrying. Our concerns stem from the fact the Company – Marsh Media Limited which prints the Looker – which he is sole director of has posted a loss of £100,471 in its latest accounts for 2018. In 2017 the Company made a loss of £53,367. We note Cllr Wimble started a new company – The Looker Newspaper Ltd, on the 14th Oct 2019.
Plus we must not forget Cllr Wimble once had a shop on New Romney High Street, but was forced to give it up according to Taylor Riley Stafford. They retook possession because Mr. Wimble had breached lease covenants. Also Cllr Wimble has had issues with paying his council tax, not once, but twice. And let’s not forget Kentonline have said of Cllr Wimble that he is “irresponsible and lacking integrity“.
Also our dear Leader, Cllr David Monk, has a poor track record according to information held at Companies House.
None of the bids submitted so far have that “WoW” factor, according to council officers. However, there is still a long way to go, perhaps something with that WoW factor will emerge. Only time will tell.
Finally, yesterday at 4pm Debenhams (Folkestone) closed its doors for the last time. We wish to thank all the staff; and wish them all well in their new futures. There are plans afoot for the building and we’ll be bringing you an update on the situation in the near future.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful