COLCHESTER’S bid to secure up to £25 million in Government funding to bring a strategic vision for the town to reality has been delayed as attention shifts to focus on recovering from the coronavirus outbreak.

The We Are Colchester partnership was set to submit a Town Deal bid to the Government’s Towns Fund this summer.

However, with board members’ attentions shifting to combatting the social and economic impacts of the outbreak, the group’s programme has been revised.

Work on creating the bid will restart this year, however, the submission is now expected to take place in 2021.

The priorities of the vision will also be revised, focusing on helping the town’s economy recover from the inevitable financial impacts of the pandemic.

Colchester Council leader Mark Cory is vice-chair of the We Are Colchester board. He said it was disappointing but those involved had to focus on “much more urgent responsibilities”.

“We are rethinking because of the virus and its impacts on Colchester businesses and the town centre in particular,” he said.

“It is a positive no-one is in the town centre at the moment but we need a plan to help once this is over.

“We still have a vision for the town but it is now about responding to the outbreak and taking a step back to see what we can do to help businesses. The economy will look somewhat different when we recover from this.

“The Government says the Towns Fund is a priority in the long term but in the short term we have to support businesses who need help to stay afloat.

“We have heard directly from the ministry and they fully appreciate the situation we are in.”

Mr Cory said he was confident Colchester’s diverse economy would recover from the outbreak and the partnership’s collaborative approach was already helping with the town’s response.

“As a council and with our community partners we have done some fantastic work to keep Colchester going strong,” he said.

“The work we have done as a partnership to be on the same footing is a big benefit.”

We Are Colchester will bid for up to £25 million from Government which it is hoped will unlock millions more outside investment in the longer term.