A County Durham market town has secured a welcome government grant to help support its local economy during these challenging times.

Bishop Auckland has been awarded £750,000 to fund projects that will have an immediate impact in the town and help build a stronger and more resilient economy.

After applying for the grant in the summer, Durham County Council has worked with the Bishop Auckland Stronger Town Board to fund projects that will assist in the regeneration of the town.

The grant is part of an advanced allocation from the government’s Towns Fund, to help the council maximise opportunities for local people and businesses by spending on projects that will immediately make a difference to the area.

As part of this Towns Fund, the council has helped form the Stronger Town Board to prepare and lead on a Town Investment Plan, aiming to secure funding for significant investments.

This money will build on the ambitious £19.9 million Future High Streets Fund bid made earlier this year for a number of regeneration projects across the town, as well as a recent multi-million-pound programme of investment made by the various Stronger Town Board members.

It is hoped these wider plans will lead to more job creation in Bishop Auckland and ensure local residents will be able to access these opportunities.

Government guidance states that the Towns Fund money should be used for land and property improvements, infrastructure, skills and digital investment.

To achieve this, the funding will support an increase in the digital training capacity for residents and businesses at Bishop Auckland College and will develop a Love Food pop-up shop on Newgate Street to showcase local food and drink produce to residents, visitors and other local businesses.

There will also be a contribution made towards a statue on the Canney Hill roundabout and an investment will be made in variable messaging traffic signals to help improve the traffic flow around the town at peak times.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This additional investment in Bishop Auckland is vital to help drive forward the regeneration efforts across the town. It’s imperative that we continue to invest in our town centres to build more prosperous futures for our residents. As a council, we have ambitious plans to ensure that this happens. We are working with our local partners and the Stronger Town Board members for these plans to become a reality in our bids for government funding. We hope this award demonstrates recognition of both our need for regeneration and the ambition of our broader plans for the town.

“By delivering on infrastructure projects and investing in training, skills and digital investment, we are providing better opportunities and longer-term benefits for both Bishop Auckland and the rest of the county. We look forward to seeing the outcome of these investments and look forward to finalising a full programme of investment plans to help continue the regeneration efforts in the town.”

David Land, a local businessman and chair of the Bishop Auckland Stronger Town Board, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this government grant while we are developing our wider investment plans for the town. The funds demonstrate the benefits of our partnership approach to the regeneration of Bishop Auckland as we identify further development and job creation opportunities.”

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