It is hoped a multi-million pound pledge to improve a County Durham town will inspire more independent retailers to open and attract more visitors. 

Spennymoor is one of more than 50 ‘overlooked’ UK towns each given £20million by the government over a 10-year period to help regenerate its high street and tackle anti-social behaviour.

As part of the investment,  a new town board will be set up, bringing together community leaders, employers, local authorities and the local MP, to help deliver a plan for consultation.

News of the funding boost is met with cautious optimism by some of the town’s independent retailers. Yet many locals hadn’t even heard of the multi-million scheme and others say they are awaiting further details beyond the funding promise. 

Read more: Spennymoor to receive £20m from the government in 10-year plan

And some people the Local Democracy Reporting Service spoke to doubted the town would ever see the money. 

Christina Angstmann opened her True North Emporium gift shop last year and hopes to see more people following suit. 

“It’s great news, we’re all looking forward to it and hopefully it will encourage more independents,” she said. 

The Northern Echo: It's great news said Christina, when talking about the government's pledge to invest £20m in the townIt's great news said Christina, when talking about the government's pledge to invest £20m in the town (Image: The Northern Echo)

Christina opened the store on Cheapside - an area populated with other local businesses, which have opened in recent years. Some of the funding should be spent on “smarting up” the high street areas, she added. 

“Hopefully this funding will help regenerate the area more.”

Further up the road, Abbie Brown and Danni Jackson are behind the counter at their multi-use Bloom n Witches business which includes a cafe and hosts craft classes and events. 

The pair work above a charity shop in the town, partly due to the cheaper rent compared to elsewhere, which they couldn’t afford. 

Danni said: “Anything that makes us more accessible and noticeable by bringing more people in can only be a positive. We enquired about being on Festival Walk but the rent was too high. Would the funding mean those rents are lowered and make it easier for new independent businesses to set up?”

Abbie explained: “We’ve been lucky but have struggled to let people know we’re here. There’s so many people who come in and say ‘oh we didn’t know you were here’. But we’re proof that there’s a demand for independents like us.” 

The Northern Echo: Abbie Brown and Danni Jackson, of Blooms n WitchesAbbie Brown and Danni Jackson, of Blooms n Witches (Image: The Northern Echo)

The popular Grind cafe, also on Cheapside, and a recently-opened tattoo studio in the town have also benefited from shoppers’ support. 

Danni added: “It’s locals supporting locals, we have 30 traders here and we’re giving them the platform to sell and do something they enjoy when they don’t all have the opportunity to open their own place. 

“People don’t need to go into bigger cities when there’s enough here.”

At the Fancy That party shop on the High Street, Harry Roche and his daughter Nicola are preparing ahead of the busy Halloween period. Having lived in the area for several decades, he’s seen significant change. 

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What would he do with the £20million? “I wouldn’t know where to start and you have to accept that not everybody can win,” said Harry. 

“Any money that comes into the town is great as long as it’s spent wisely. It’s a disjointed town at the moment, but the good thing is that it has a strong community and people care for eachother.”

Further details on the new scheme is expected in due course.