AMBITIOUS plans to breathe new life into rundown town centres are at the heart of a council's bid to borrow £30m.

Stockton Council cabinet will vote on whether to approve the borrowing next week to buy up “key sites and assets” in the borough’s town centres of Billingham, Thornaby, Yarm and Stockton.

And the authority says it will also request use of existing funds to demolish the former Glam Nightclub and Post Office buildings on Stockton High Street.

“If we don’t step in, nobody else will,” said Cllr Nigel Cooke, the council’s Labour cabinet member for regeneration and housing.

“We’re passionate about our town centres – they need our help and we want to give it.”

The proposals will be considered at a special meeting of the council’s cabinet at 4.30pm on Wednesday, December 12.

If agreed, the bid will then be considered by full council when it meets at 7pm that same evening.

Cllr Cooke said the Post Office and former Glam Nightclub were “better off flattened”.

“Those big eyesore buildings were never going to interest new occupants and are better off flattened and the site cleared,” he added.

“That opens up all sorts of possibilities for how we might use the site – it could be turned into a “pocket park” or other kinds of community use, or alternatively for car parking or housing.

“We’ll be seeking people’s views on the future of town centres.

“Again, it’s only by taking more control that we can influence that type of change, and if we don’t, those buildings just stand empty and blighting the High Street for years.”

Meanwhile, a bid will also be put in with the government’s “Future High Streets Fund” for other town centre projects.

Cllr Cooke said high streets were not dead – but warned they would die if the authority did not intervene.

“We aren’t prepared to just sit back and watch that happen. It is our duty to help,” said the cabinet member.

“That duty is not only to the places themselves, but to future generations too.

“Everybody can see what’s happening in our town centres and time and again I see and hear local people calling for something to be done to save them. Retailers are campaigning for it. National newspapers are campaigning for it.

“We agree. And we want to do even more about it.”

And Cllr Matt Vickers, leader of the Conservative opposition on Stockton Council, said the investment “had the potential to make a huge difference to our town centres”.

But he believed the council “did not have a good record” when it came to buying and improving town centre property.

He said: “Having been bought by the council, the former Glam Nightclub and Post Office have sat empty and rotting for years and cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds in business rates.

“I’ll be seeking assurances that this will be better spent and that the council will work with the local business community to ensure it invests sensibly in the right places. I also want to see this investment used as leverage to encourage private sector investment wherever possible.

“I’ll also be fighting to ensure that any investment includes a fair share for Yarm and Thornaby – looking for a much needed and urgent solution to the parking issues around Yarm High Street and that there’s support for improved security around Thornaby Town Centre.”