AN organisation aiming to “transform” Taunton could get a £9,000 windfall following the demise of a company set up to boost the town centre.
TauntonForward, which wants to lay on cultural events and help lead the regeneration of the town, could get around £4,000 following the liquidation of the Taunton Town Centre Company.
It could also be among bidders for grants of up to £5,000 from a £42,000 fund for free-entry community events that attract outsiders to the town and make use of public open spaces.
TTCC, which failed after businesses rejected proposals for them to pay a levy as part of a Business Improvement District scheme to promote the shopping centre and fund events, was wound up on Tuesday.
Directors voted to give TauntonForward any money left over after paying its bills – likely to be about £4,000.
And Taunton Deane Council has agreed to use the £42,000 annual grant earmarked for TTCC to fund free-entry events – organisers need to apply to the authority for cheques of up to £5,000.
TauntonForward’s Kit Chapman welcomed the kitty as “culture and entertainment are prime drivers of increased footfall and visitor numbers”, although he fears the criteria could exclude quality events.
Executive committee members, who say they want to work with Taunton Deane Council to conceive and deliver “imaginative regeneration projects”, recently met deputy leader Cllr Mark Edwards.
He said: “I share TauntonForward’s enthusiasm for the potential future for our town.
“We had a wide-ranging discussion and I hope they are now better informed of the direction we are taking and understand some of the constraints and the many challenges that exist.”
He said that Taunton Rethink, which aims to regenerate Firepool, The Riverside area around The Brewhouse and the town centre, is central to the council’s plans.
Two business masterclasses for traders have been held by TauntonForward, which is offering small business owners free professional advice at a day-long surgery on May 1 and will be promoting a Shakespeare Festival in three locations of the district in August.