Almost £40k in unspent grant funding awarded to Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG) will be given to a new ‘Town Centre Partnership’ being set up by the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, the Rasen Mail can today reveal.
In an exclusive interview, MR BIG directors Richard Hallsworth and Darren Lince have revealed their accounts, responded to the group’s critics and spoken about how they have worked tirelessly to ensure ‘every last penny’ of leftover funding will go back into Market Rasen.
Back in May 2012 volunteer group MR BIG beat-off competition from hundreds of entries to win almost £100k from the government’s Portas Pilot scheme to rejuvenate high streets.
And over the next two years the group secured a further £140,000 from the government, Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund.
Unable to attract new members, the group ceased at the start of last year having spent £187,600 - and volunteered an estimated 3,712 hours.
There is £38,200 in unspent cash which will be transferred to the Chamber of Commerce as it works alongside Mr Hallsworth, Mr Lince and fellow MR BIG director Sara Scott to establish the Town Centre Partnership
Mr Lince said: “It’s local money for local people. One of the things we were adamant about was that the money got spent in Market Rasen.
“It was really important to us as directors that it stays in the town.”
As part of the deal, the Chamber will give the new group one seat on its council and provide someone to work part-time in Market Rasen in a role similar to a town centre manager.
This person will be responsible for things such as keeping the town looking tidy and making bids for more grant funding.
The three MR BIG directors will sit on the Town Centre Partnership board for 12 months - or until more members come forward.
Mr Lince said: “We didn’t feel we could just hand over to the Chamber.
“We want to pass on some of the things we’ve learned to a new group.”
Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Beardsley said: “Lincolnshire Chamber have watched with interest the journey MR BIG have taken and have throughout supported them.
“When the opportunity to help them take the next stage on their journey was presented we were delighted to get involved.
“The new Town Centre Partnership that will be created over the next couple of months is an exciting project and one we are looking forward to taking.”
Anyone interested in joining the Partnership is urged to contact Marie Pritchett at Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce on 01522 523 333.
Where the money went:
Town Tidy project: £2,738
Sustainable shopping (including 24 monthly themed markets): £131,635
Professional fees: £1,306
PLANK arts festival: £9,274
Heritage trail: £6,860
Consultancy (Association of Town Centre Managers): £3,000
Assets leftover (all to stay in Rasen, including fixtures and equipment): £14,200
Cash leftover: £38,200