This week Southwark's cabinet member for communities and economic wellbeing visited Tower Bridge Road to launch a new fund for improvements to local high streets.
As part of the High Street Challenge, businesses and community groups can apply for a share of a £600,000 fund that has been set aside for measures to increase footfall to local shopping streets, and help local firms compete with popular shopping destinations such as the West End and out of town shopping centres.
Groups with fresh ideas to revitalise our shops and markets can apply for pots of money ranging from £1,000 to £75,000. All ideas are welcome, and could range from environmental improvements (including shop fronts or public spaces) to marketing and promotion (such as events, speciality markets, or new ways to attract new customers).
Cllr Victoria Mills, cabinet member for communities and economic wellbeing, visited Bermodnsey this week to learn about the work of the the Tower Bridge Road Alliance, a community interest company (CIC) formed in 2012 with support from the council.
Since that initial £40,000 grant the alliance has secured further funding from both Borough, Bankside & Walworth Community Council and Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council for a range of environmental improvements and initiatives to promote local businesses.
Recent events organised by the alliance include a Christmas fair with live reindeer.
Suhel Ahmed, chair of the Tower Bridge Road Alliance, advised other businesses to 'go for it' and apply for funding.
Cllr Victoria Mills said: "Southwark Council knows that these are challenging times for our town centres and shopping parades but we want to help them go from strength to strength, whether that's through better promotion, new uses for empty shops or physical improvements to their high street. Local businesses are so important to the community; boosting the economy, creating jobs, and adding to people's sense of local identity.
"I'm sure many local business-people have thought 'I'd love to give that a go if only I had some spare cash' – well now is the time to put those thoughts down on paper and apply for funding to turn those ambitions into reality."
• Find out more about the TBR Alliance at www.towerbridgeroad.com