Crunch time for plan for bud­get food store

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page -

MA­JOR plans to cre­ate a health and well­be­ing hub fea­tur­ing a pioneer­ing bud­get food store in one of the coun­try’s most de­prived neigh­bour­hoods in Run­corn could be fac­ing a fund­ing im­passe.

At Septem­ber’s ex­ec­u­tive board meet­ing, Town Hall chiefs mulled the op­tions for Wind­mill Hill with two main op­tions on the ta­ble and con­tin­gency plans in case the pre­ferred schemes fall through.

They are due to re­turn this month to con­sider an­other re­port ex­am­in­ing the best way to pro­ceed.

Un­der the most am­bi­tious pro­pos­als, Wind­mill Hill chil­dren’s cen­tre would be ex­panded to in­cor­po­rate a Com­mu­nity Shop af­ford­able food scheme; a large hall for would be cre­ated at St Berte­line’s Church with a cafe, and neigh­bour­hood re­vamp works would take place.

The full scheme is es­ti­mated to cost £4.5m, but a Hal­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil re­port has now warned ‘there are no funds to en­able the build’ and the project would take nearly two years to com­plete. ●

A wa­tered-down op­tion would in­volve mod­i­fy­ing the chil­dren’s cen­tre to host the Com­mu­nity Shop and a wider range of ac­tiv­i­ties for res­i­dents, with the works ex­pected to cost £787,000.

Coun­cil of­fi­cials have said that the other pro­pos­als could be added on in time, but warned that not go­ing for the grander set of plans might prompt crit­i­cism from res­i­dents.

Con­tin­gency plans in­clude lo­cat­ing the Com­mu­nity Shop at Upton Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Hough Green, Widnes.

Com­mu­nity Shop, which is a so­cial en­ter­prise that sells sur­plus food ob­tained from high street re­tail­ers at slashed dis­count prices with the aim of re­duc­ing food poverty, has been in talks with Hal­ton Coun­cil for four years.

The Run­corn branch would be ex­pected to cre­ate 13 jobs and mem­ber­ship for us­ing the store could also be widened be­yond Wind­mill Hill.

Wind­mill Hill is Hal­ton’s most de­prived ward and among the top 1% most de­prived na­tion­ally, and healthy life ex­pectancy is in the bot­tom 0.5%.

For women in Wind­mill Hill, healthy life ex­pectancy is the 10th worst out of nearly 8,000 ar­eas in Eng­land and Wales.

Five mem­bers of Hal­ton’s ex­ec­u­tive board, the di­rec­tor of pub­lic health and Wind­mill Hill Cllr Pauline Hignett re­cently vis­ited a Com­mu­nity Shop in Barns­ley.

Cllr Hignett was im­pressed and said the fate of the pro­pos­als could now hinge on what res­i­dents want.

Cllr Hignett said: “It’s very im­por­tant that the Com­mu­nity Shop goes for­ward.

“It’s for the res­i­dents them­selves to say ‘yes’. It would be fan­tas­tic to have it on their doorstep but we will have to wait and see.”

Cllr Pauline Hignett

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