‘Library of the future’ and community safety drive on key Liverpool high street, thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s £6m Town Centre Fund
• Spellow library revamp to create community hub
• Local apprentice recruited to help transform run-down building
• Police community safety pilot deployed 11 dedicated officers to County Road
• Successful scheme disrupted crime and ran youth boxing initiative
A ‘library of the future’ and a police safety scheme have helped revitalise a Liverpool high street, thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s £6m Town Centre Fund.
Spellow Library, on County Road, has been transformed from a dated 1960s building into a digitally connected facility with meeting rooms, laptops and advice offered about employment, skills, benefits and the cost-of-living.
The cash also funded a police pilot scheme, Operation Abbeyvale, which dedicated a team of 11 officers to County Road to crackdown on crime, engage with the community and support vulnerable people.
The improvements came from the Mayor’s Town Centre Fund which set aside £6m – up to £1 million for each of the city region’s six local authorities – to support plans to revitalise town centres.
It has funded masterplan strategies, public realm improvements, physical and digital infrastructure, business support, town centre management and events and marketing activities.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Devolution has given the region the chance to chart our own course with local people choosing the priorities for our area. I launched my Mayoral Town Centre Fund when I was first elected to help rejuvenate our high streets, helping local councils to invest and to inject life back into the hearts of their communities.“By working with our local authorities we have taken action to ensure they thrive over the next 20 years and now we are starting to see the results in our local communities.
“Empty shop premises are being transformed to create new spaces fit for the 21st century, high streets are being updated and important infrastructure has been put in place.”
“This is proper levelling up in action, giving local people the space and support they need to create, to learn and to build a brighter future for themselves.”
The Town Centre Fund provided £644,000 to the refurbishment of Spellow Hub and £236,000 to the dedicated Police Team with Onward Housing and Riverside providing match funding for the initiative.
A business grants scheme worth £66,000 was set up to help with recovery from the pandemic and a creative community programme of £40,000 was used to attract visitors to the high street.
Elaine McCausland, Head of Service, Liverpool Adult Learning Service, said:
“Spellow Library is a 1960s building which has had a massive refurb and it is absolutely brilliant. It is now going to re-open as the Spellow Hub. We are very proud to have a brand new, digitally-connected modern facility right in the heart of the community, bringing people together to connect and to get help advice and support.
Councillor Harry Doyle, Cabinet Member for Culture and Libraries, said:
“Spellow Hub is just wow! If you saw what it looked like before, you won’t recognise it. It’s the same building from the outside, but inside it’s been completely transformed into this wonderfully welcoming, inclusive and safe space.
“It’s been designed to encourage learning and creativity for people of all abilities and you can feel that the moment you walk through the door. The equipment and resources on offer are just top notch.
“The people of Walton have been very patient waiting for their library to re-open – and thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Town Centre Fund they’ve been rewarded because they’ve got a fantastic facility that is so much more than a library.”
Sgt Amy Crowder, of Merseyside Police, said:
“The team was made up of eight officers, two PCSOs (police and community support officers) and myself as sergeant, dedicated to disrupting criminal activity, supporting the local community and helping vulnerable people.
“We received a lot of useful intelligence and the relationship between the police and the community really improved. We did a lot of community activities, such as the Boxing 101 Merseyside initiative to engage with young people and the Walton Lane Community Fridge, which allowed us to direct food paid for by councillors direct to vulnerable people without the need for food banks.
“You wouldn’t normally have such a big team focussed on a small area such as this and we used the project as an overall plan of how we can go into an area and make things better. We are now looking into extending the scheme into other areas.”
PC Craig Davies, a member of the pilot team who ran Boxing 101 Merseyside, added:
“Working on Abbeyvale allowed me to think about how I wanted to make a difference and part of that was using my own upbringing and experience as an amateur boxer.
“We used partner agencies like local charities and local schools – boxing gets me in there, we speak to the young people, I share my own honest opinions my own experiences then we talk about relevant subjects like knife crime, county lines, stop and search and anti-social behaviour.
“Although Abbeyvale has now stopped we are looking to kick on the project in other areas – it is getting bigger and better.”
Councillor Mike Wharton, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Business, said:
“This fund has clearly had a positive effect on our high streets and town centres and the sheer range of schemes is a testament to its success. From health and advice centres to community safety, creative spaces, cycle facilities and shopfront renovation, each of the six local authority areas has found ways to address issues which are important to their residents, adding vibrancy and making our communal spaces more attractive.”
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