CONCERNS were raised about Wiltshire Council’s bid for £25million to boost Salisbury’s high street during a city council meeting on Monday.

Wiltshire Council cabinet member for economic development and South Wiltshire recovery Pauline Church attended the meeting to give an update on the bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund, a £675million pot of money to help regenerate towns and cities.

Cllr Church said Salisbury is eligible for the maximum amount of £25million, and said the council is putting together “a very compelling case” for the cash boost.

She said the current stage is to express interest in the money, and that if it is successful there will be a period of wider public engagement to discuss how funds will be spent.

The main basis of the funding application is to use the money to ensure a greater experience in Salisbury for residents and visitors, to bring young people into the city and to support business growth.

Initial plans focus on enhancing Fisherton Street and the railway as a key gateway to the city, rather than High Street itself.

Cllr Church showed artists’ impressions of murals above the railway bridge and lighting displays on buildings along the street - prompting one member of the public to exclaim: “That’s not what it’s going to look like is it?!”

Following the presentation, Cllr Matt Dean (Independent) asked if other government funding schemes are being explored, and said: “Wiltshire Council has been very active in the High Street fund, my worry is that this is going to be a bit of a one trick pony.”

And he suggested that newly appointed ministerial champion for Salisbury, Lord Henley be approached about making sure the city is put forward for as much central funding as possible.

Cllr Ian Tomes (Labour) said he welcomed the chance to bid for the money, but said: “We’ve tried an awful lot of that [the regeneration ideas] before. In 1995 we tried to increase the number of hours tourists spent in Salisbury, and it’s never happened.

“I think for Salisbury to regrow a lot of it needs to happen organically.

“It does worry me that we will use this money to destroy what Salisbury is about, which is its beauty and heritage.

“We don’t need clever ideas like this, we need some sort of funding so that shops can actually be repaired.”

Wiltshire Council must submit its bid by March 22.