Councillors' delight after mayor saves high street project

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson praised by March town councillors

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson (pictured) has been praised by March councillors after he stepped in to save the town's high street project. - Credit: YouTube/Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Councillors in March have shared their delight that a major project in the town can go ahead as planned thanks to a £1.1 million lifeline. 

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson has been backed by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Board to maintain the money awarded to Fenland District Council (FDC) for the March High Street Project. 

Councillor Jan French, deputy leader at FDC and county, district and town ward member for March, said: “The investment in March will make a huge difference to our residents, businesses and visitors.” 

The government said on Boxing Day last year it was awarding £6.47m in future high-street funding to the March project, on the basis this was matched by the combined authority. 

The board had decided to give £900,000 but an agreement in principle by former mayor James Palmer to give a further £1.1m was never ratified before he left office. 

A spokesperson said without the extra £1.1m, the government would “likely have cut its grant, weakening the whole project and losing the Acre Road development in its entirety.” 

Cllr Chris Seaton, FDC’s portfolio holder for social mobility and heritage, said: “This is wonderful news for March.  

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“Now we can breathe a sigh of relief and push ahead with the exciting proposals as planned.”   

The money will help transform Broad Street, the Market Place and the riverside areas of March, as well as reviving Acre Road. 

An idea of what March town centre thanks to high street project

A depiction of what the riverside area in March town centre could look like once the high street project is completed. - Credit: Fenland District Council

The project also aims to bring vacant retail units back into use, improve the appearance of shops and attract more shoppers into the town. 

Cllr Steve Count, leader of the Conservative group at Cambridgeshire County Council and district ward member for March, praised Dr Johnson for supporting the scheme. 

Cllr Count said: “There has been a lot of work behind the scenes on the project already, so it would have been extremely disappointing to see any of that go to waste.” 

Dr Johnson had also secured votes to rescue bids for the Wisbech Access Strategy project, which was threatened with a shortfall in funds. 

He said: “I’m determined that members of the combined authority will work together beyond politics to bring March, Wisbech and all Fenland the better deal they’re entitled to, not just now, but in future. 

“We all know they’ve been sidelined in the past, and that stops now.”