Acton's gains a unique shopping experience

Pilot street market to become a permanent fixture

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Thousands of new visitors are set to boost Acton town centre after the London Development Agency agreed to support a community group’s vision to expand weekly themed markets and cultural entertainment to a weekly basis.

Action Acton have been piloting food markets for the past year as a way to encourage entrepreneurship in the town, as well as offering something unique that would tempt shoppers away from shopping centres and trendy parades in areas such as Chiswick.

The community group in Crown Street, Acton, applied to London Development Agency last year for an Opportunities Fund grant to make the market a weekly occurrence. Its bid also included utilising the events to help the community by using connections with nearby Acton High School and Acton and West London College to offer training and work experience opportunities to students.

Action Acton will receive around £640,000 from the London Development Agency over the next three years for the market. It is one of only 94 organisations to have their bid approved and share an Opportunities Fund pot of £50m. In total, the London Development Agency had 766 applications from across London.  It is just one of a number of community or voluntary led organisations which had successful bids because, where possible, the London Development Agency wants grassroots organisations who know their communities best to work to improve them.

Mayor Ken Livingstone said "London’s dynamism is a direct result of the communities of people who live here. So often, the best ideas for what a community really needs come from the people themselves. This fund recognises that and will harness the tremendous ability, enthusiasm, creativity and ingenuity of groups throughout the capital to deliver real benefits to those people who need it most."

An estimated 45 jobs will be created or safeguarded by the funding and an estimated 90 new businesses will be created or supported - 55 of them new businesses will be BME-owned. The markets will include African, French and Caribbean themes, while it will also host street entertainment such as cultural celebrations. Last year, the market was the venue for Acton Food Festival.

John Blackmore, chief executive of Action Acton, said “We are offering something unique to pull in people to Acton. It’s about celebrating Acton’s diversity and providing something that will both benefit trade and bring people of all backgrounds together.

“This is a really big boost for Acton and we will be working with Ealing Council, Acton Business Forum, the police and other partners to get the most from it. We want to turn the market and entertainment into a social enterprise so after the three years of funding has finished, it can run on its own.”

London Development Agency chief executive Manny Lewis said: “From the many excellent applications that we received, we have sought to select projects that will have the greatest impact in disadvantaged communities. As well as helping us boost the urban environment, this
fund will have a major impact on local economies and the lives of thousands of Londoners. I am especially pleased by the number of projects being led by the voluntary sector and by minority groups, and I hope these type of partnerships will continue to increase.”

The pedestrianised area for the street market, opposite Morrisson's in Market Place, was expanded last year after Ealing Council secured funding to do the work from the Home Office.



March 14, 2006