Towns bid for £10,000 tourism signs

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Signs could be installed in Oakham and Uppingham directing tourists to places to visit if a bid for £10,000 is successful.

Rutland Towns Team, made up of Oakham and Uppingham town partnerships, missed out on £84,000 in the bid to become a Portas Pilot Town.

But the team had another opportunity to get some funding to put part of the plan into action and have now asked for £10,000.

If successful, Oakham and Uppingham would share the money and each town partnership would use their money to buy fingerpost signs to direct visitors to the towns to tourist hotspots.

Rutland MP Alan Duncan has backed the bid.

He said: “I am very happy to nominate the Rutland Towns Team bid.

“I have always been a strong supporter of our local high streets and the diversity of independent shops and businesses they have to offer. I am strongly in support of any scheme that helps them to thrive.”

Twenty-seven towns which received backing to become a Portas Pilot Town and the unsuccessful bidders were invited to apply for a share of £1m from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Our Town First fund.

The aim of the fund is to reward innovative schemes which improve trade in town centres and visitor numbers.

Oakham Town Partnership chairman Alf Dewis, who is the mayor of Oakham, said: “Obviously we felt we had a good chance of getting the full amount of money but it was not to be but now we have asked for £10,000 to spend on some aspect of the bid.

“I think finger-post signs will be a big benefit to Oakham to direct people to places like the museum and the castle.

“We had to get Alan Duncan to sponsor our bid which he was very happy to do and we are now waiting for the money to come through.”

Coun Dewis said he was hoping to hear in the next three weeks whether the bid had been successful.

Vice-chairman of Uppingham Town Partnership Marc Oxley added: “It is not a huge amount of money but we think heritage fingerprint signs directing tourists to places like the library will benefit the town and help visitors.”

The towns had wanted to use the full amount of Portas cash to become key hubs in the county, connected to each other and to Rutland Water. They also wanted to encourage more traders into the town centre and improve transport links.

Oakham Town Partnership is already pushing ahead with one aspect of the bid and has won £10,000 from the Local Strategic Partnership to install signs directing people from Rutland Water.

By Christmas it hopes to have installed three large signs off the bypass, marking Oakham as an “historical market town”, and a sign near Hambleton, displaying what you can find in Oakham.