MORE THAN £8.1 million of funding has been given to support the recovery of high streets in the South East, following the gradual easing of lockdown measures.

The government has distributed the funding to councils across the South East, which will be used to help support local high streets to get safely back to business.

To prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail, which began on June 1, the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund was used to help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

This is being used to support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers, which is helping businesses to trade safely, not only in high streets and town and city centres, but also in other public spaces like beach fronts and promenades.

Out of the £8.1 million funding, Southampton City Council received £225,271, the highest in Hampshire, while Eastleigh and New Forest were distributed £118,435 and £159,208 respectively.

Fareham and Gosport received a combined total of £177,401, Test Valley Borough Council gained £112,403 of the funding and Winchester City Council were distributed £110,972.

High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “As we begin to slowly return to normality, the re-opening of our high streets will be key to kick-starting our economic recovery.

“Levelling up the regions and supporting our high streets has always been central to the mission of this Government. Many businesses have already introduced creative ways of trading such as contactless collection or taking orders by instant messaging and this shows that they are ready for the challenges ahead.

“That’s why we are providing an extra £8.1 million for councils across the South East to support a range of safety measures that will help get these businesses back on track and ensure that people can enjoy their time visiting their local high street safely again.”

Councils can also use this money to develop local marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public and reassure them that their high streets and other commercial areas are safe.