Council grant scheme to boost heritage and tourism industry

PUBLISHED: 15:47 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:47 27 May 2020

Lowestoft High Street. Picture: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft High Street. Picture: Nick Butcher

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A grant scheme to help boost a coastal town’s heritage and tourism industry after the coronavirus lockdown has been approved by councillors.

Lowestoft Town Council's full council meeting on May 26, 2020. PHOTO: ZoomLowestoft Town Council's full council meeting on May 26, 2020. PHOTO: Zoom

At a meeting of Lowestoft Town Council on Tuesday night, a proposal for a grant awarding policy for a range of post-Covid-19 initiatives from local organistations was approved, with £75,000 to be shared out.

Although not limited to the heritage and tourism industry, such applicants were encouraged by councillors.

Councillor Alice Taylor said: “During this time of crisis, all areas of Lowestoft are hurting. One area that is under a great deal of threat are our heritage and arts venues.

“The government and our county and district councils have been rightly concerned with prioritising grants, loans and other schemes to make sure people are supported in their basic needs and jobs.

“Museums, theatres and cultural pursuits are at the bottom of the list and will always take second place, but as we move to decide how to manage long-term challenge, I would like the town council to turn towards helping the historical and cultural sector.

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“We are a coastal town and about a third of our economy depends on tourism. People are now evaluating their holiday choices.

“When people come to Lowestoft they need something to do, other than the beach, and that means going to our museums, theatres and nature reserves, which are in deep trouble now.

“They are not eligible for much of the help businesses get. Rate and employee relief doesn’t help if they don’t pay rates or rely on volunteers. They will need to buy materials like masks and cleaning supplies for their volunteers and barriers and remodellng to develop access, all with severely reduced income.”

The funding includes £25,000 diverted from events budgets, with almost all cancelled in the wake of the pandemic, on top of an existing grant budget of £50,000.

Councillor Andy Pearce said each applicant would be decided on their own merits, saying: “I have no objections and agree and support it all, but I wouldn’t want it to invalidate any other applicant or bump them down the ladder.”

Councillor Neil Coleby said: “I propose we adopt the policy and add in that we will actively consider heritage and cultural proposals in a positive way to sustain their industry in the town.”

Details of how organisations can apply for the grants are available on the town council’s website.

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