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Rural Capital of Food bids for £10m of funds post-Covid

written by Bella Palmer
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Melton Borough Council has submitted a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to invest in Melton town centre

The UK’s Rural Capital of Food is bidding for nearly £10 million of public funds to help its recovery post-Covid and support 139 new jobs.

Melton Borough Council has submitted a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to invest in three key sites in Melton town centre.

Working with private and public sector partners it wants to improve the town’s cattle market so that it can host more events and create more food and drinks production units.

It also wants to refurbish the Brooksby Melton College theatre site, and convert the college’s former King Street training centre into a food production, training and workshop facility.

The council said investment would support an additional 139 jobs in the wider economy, with an additional 32,000 sq ft of employment, educational and cultural space, and bring in an additional £7.4 million in additional visitor spend within the town centre area a year.

Hugh Brown, chief executive of Melton Mowbray Market said: As the largest town centre market in the country, we already have a well-established farmers market, an award-winning brewery and are home to many food & drink events. The levelling up funding will turbo charge this development for the benefit of new and existing traders, visitors and the wider town.

John Southerington, chairman of feoffees (the trustees) at Melton Mowbray Town Estate said: We believe this initiative will increase the vitality, vibrancy, footfall and spend in the town centre, to create optimism in the town.

It will also act as a connecting fabric to enhance the Melton Mowbray experience through the High Street and Market Place, he said.

Coun. Leigh Higgins, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for growth and prosperity, said: This funding will allow us to enhance and take us to a new level, in an ever competitive and changing market, for Melton as the Rural Capital of Food. By developing some key sites in the town, Melton will improve training and employment opportunities in this sector as well as enhance the important night time offer.

It is important to now look to reach out to new customers and investors looking for a wider offer which Melton can provide a unique experience regionally, Higgins said. Our mutual aim is to boost the town’s economy and attract more tourism to the borough. Increasing footfall and, more importantly, discretionary spending in our area is a key aim to help secure private investment, new businesses and jobs for our long term future.

Dawn Whitemore, chief executive and principal of Brooksby Melton College said: Melton Mowbray is one of just a few places synonymous with a particular food product, building on the heritage of the Pork Pie and Stilton Cheese and adopting a strategy that links the production of food and drink with tourism and education will grow and promote Melton’s unique food heritage whilst building an event calendar and promoting the town’s lesser known exports like Stilton, gin and cordials.

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