NEW businesses are opening, creating new jobs and breathing new life into Runcorn old town.

Retailers have received £44,500 worth of commercial property renewal grants to give their shops a facelift.

Six fledgling firms have been awarded £11,000.

A new tapas bar, cafe, restaurant and function room are opening shortly in Church Street.

Local artists and craftmakers have created Hazlehurst Craft Studio in High Street.

The former Synergy building in Regent Street is being revived.

Halton has also received £100,000 from the High Street Renovation Fund to regenerate empty properties.

Runcorn Town Team, a group of traders, residents, community groups and councillors decides how to allocate the funds.

Wesley Rourke, Halton Council’s operational director for economy, enterprise and property, said: “It is working very well and is increasing footfall. It is all about helping retailers to make their shops and businesses more attractive. It has made a difference.

“It gives them an incentive as they have to contribute 50 per cent of the cost.”

Businesses are now being encouraged to bid for a share of a £8 million Government initiative to re-invigorate high streets with innovative ideas.

It will be run as a competition, challenging retailers to come up with new approaches to use technology to boost their business.

Mr Rourke said: “This is an innovative fund. We will support businesses and help them to find new ways to encourage people into the town, using new technology to market themselves.”

A new retail and leisure development is expected to take shape later this year on the former Crosville site behind The Brindley.

Mr Rourke added: “What is important about this site is its proximity to the town centre. It will open up links and create a domino effect. Once developers see investment, more are likely to follow.”

Council leader Clr Rob Polhill said: “Runcorn has a unique quality with its waterways. We want to harness the quaintness of the town. It is a hidden gem.”