barton wood
Pictured: Former Cllr David Barton firmly grasping wood

As part of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, Southport’s Atkinson Arts Centre has received £203,934 and Meols Hall, based in Churchtown, has received £125,000.

Prolific heritage campaigner, David Barton, has welcomed the news.

He believes this will allow both sites to adapt to the pandemic while ensuring that both venues can operate through carefully-managed business plans that address the future.

Mr Barton said: “It is invigorating to see public and private sector Grade II establishments recognised nationally as part of a leading heritage grant.

“This symbolises our town’s cultural significance here in the North West. To be shortlisted as part of the first round of tranche funding of the CRF, which is being spearheaded by Arts Council England and the National Heritage Culture Fund, validates Southport’s classic resort identity and role.”

Mr Barton is determined to see every chance given to his hometown and to acquire funding for items that wouldn’t necessarily be possible from the local public and private sectors.

Mr Barton said: “Be it assistance with the up-keeping and restorative maintenance of such a prized building or the refashioning of its commercial viability, it can be agreed that this is a shining moment for everyone, especially prospective investors.

“The fact that the sites have been selected so early on in a competitive bidding process demonstrates the town and Sefton Borough’s importance to the nation, alongside the mercantile scope of restoring traditional buildings faithfully where the relevant fiscal aid would have been otherwise unavailable.”

He is confident that Southport’s growing recognition with Whitehall will continue to attract high-quality inward investment across the seaside town and borough.

Mr Barton said: “It is my hope that other such locations, ideally large complexes steeped in historical value to the surrounding area, are similarly applied for across the whole of Southport, Merseyside, be these privately or publicly owned by show of good faith to the community.”

Mr Barton suggests that where resource investment has been committed, can be evidenced, or if a site is need of urgent attention, support should be provided.

He says that the Grand Casino and Toad Hall are good examples, however, where underlying factors, such as illness, familial matters and general coordination of work amidst the pandemic inhibit progress, these factors should also be considered to help everyone in the long-term.

Mr Barton said: “I should finally like to remind anyone, especially those with prevalent and/or commercial interest in traditionalist style architecture, to contact the Sefton Conservation department.

“In this way, further information pertaining to potential support with any future grant funding applications can be accessed.”