Falkirk shortlisted for best town centre in Britain

Falkirk's town centre had made a shortlist of three to be the best in the UK. Picture: John Devlin (130248ZE)
Falkirk's town centre had made a shortlist of three to be the best in the UK. Picture: John Devlin (130248ZE)

Falkirk’s high street has made a shortlist of three to be the best town centre in Britain.

Falkirk will battle it out with Worcester and Wantage in Oxfordshire in the town centre category of the Great British High Street Awards.

Around 135 high streets entered the contest from across the UK – over a third with a town centre management team, with Falkirk’s run by Falkirk Delivers.

The contest is organised by the Future High Streets Forum and received more than 135 entries from across the UK. More than a third of town teams – local groups set up to support their high street – entered their local areas.

There are seven categories – coastal, market town, city, village, local parade, town centre and London – and winners will win a share of £50,000 prize money as well as support and mentoring from industry experts on creating a business plan and digital marketing.

Falkirk’s entry read: “In the late 1980s Falkirk town centre transformed from being a highly under-performing centre through major regeneration into one of Scotland’s leading town centres featuring a fully pedestrianised high street, two shopping centres and a mix of national and quality independent businesses.

“More recently Falkirk has suffered like most similar high streets and it has been acknowledged that the high street once again needs rejuvenating. The local Business Improvement District, Falkirk Delivers, with its partners is driving a renaissance.

“Local projects included a Shop Local campaign, a series of exhibitions and community uses of vacant units, a ‘Free After Three’ parking regime in all council car parks and a diverse range of footfall building events and festivals.

“The BID has embraced multi-channel technology, with a ‘e’ toolkit to support local businesses, and a smartphone app to highlight current offers.”

The competition is promoting the work of traders, management groups and local firms which are aiming to boost business in local high streets and get local economies booming again as cornerstones of communities where people want to shop, socialise and work.

The UK government says it is committed to supporting local shops and businesses through a billion-pound investment that will target business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action on over-zealous parking practices.

High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “There is a real sense of momentum behind our high streets and I’m determined that the hard work of people who have strived to make their high streets great places to work, shop and live is not only recognised but shared with others so they too can learn valuable tips for success.

“We have seen a lot of enthusiasm for this competition and I’ve heard firsthand on my tour on high streets around the country how proud people are of their streets and the value they place on them as an essential part of their community.”

The entries were whittled down to a shortlist of 21 and will now be visited by a member of the judging panel A winner will then be selected for each category and announced in around a month’s time.

If you want to show your support for Falkirk’s bid to become the best visit www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk, or use the Twitter hashtag #GBHighSt.