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Young, old and businesses set for triple boost

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Young, old and businesses set for triple boost
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SMALL businesses, along with young and elderly residents of the Staffordshire Moorlands are set to benefit in a three pronged initiative being established by the district council.

Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Sybil Ralphs, said her authority intends to start offering loans to help small businesses; look at bringing back a similar scheme to the former police-run SPACE project for young people; and look at more concessionary rates for the young and elderly to use leisure centres across the district.

The council leader said: "We are going to set up a growth fund to help small businesses.

"This would help with capital finance for projects that would have a positive impact on physical regeneration and wealth creation.

"The loan would be available from the district council at a very competitive interest rate, payable back over time.

"This will create jobs in the Moorlands and help small businesses who find it hard to get a loan."

The council is also looking at bringing back a scheme which attracted thousands of young people to enjoy a host of activities in the summer holidays.

In June 1983. Staffordshire Police launched the Staffordshire Police Activity and Community Enterprise (SPACE) scheme for young people aged between 10 and 16 across the county.

It was to go on the enjoy 17 highly successful years.

It was aimed at preventing crime by providing a host of activities for young people during the school summer holidays.

By 1988 more than 25,000 young people had taken part in the project which was described as a 'Rolls-Royce' model for similar schemes across the world. It was closed due to funding and staffing arrangements in 1999.

Now the district council is looking at bringing back a similar programme for the area as an all year round activity by setting aside funding.

Ms Ralphs said: "A number of years ago, a member of the Staffordshire Police service, based at Leek Police Station, PC Mike Beeston, organised and ran a programme of activities during the school holidays, for school age children, called the SPACE programme.

"It was tremendously popular, and there are people living here in the Moorlands, probably now in their late 20s, who will still remember the fun and enjoyment they had from taking part in that programme.

"I would like to set aside funding to enable the district council to work with volunteers and in partnership with Staffordshire County Council and other organisations to perhaps re-introduce this type of programme of activities, not necessarily just in the school holidays, but throughout the year."

The council is also looking at ways of helping both young and elderly people with concessions to take part in leisure centres activities.

Ms Ralphs said: "Having spoken over the past few months with a number of young people under the age of 18, I have been made aware of the difficulties some of them have in affording the sports and leisure facilities at our leisure centres.

"We are in discussions with Parkwood Leisure, who run the facilities, to see how we can help by way of concessions.

"The same applies to the elderly residents of the Moorlands.

"We want to provide additional and affordable facilities for this age group too. I would welcome ideas and suggestions from anyone who is interested in how we could take this forward."

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