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Mary Portas welcomes rail fares

This promotion sums up the spirit of the Portas Pilots. Everyone playing their part to bring the buzz back to our town centres. Get on board and find out what all the fuss is about."

– Mary Portas

"Margate is one of Mary Portas' Pilot Towns and Southeastern is pleased to support the initiative. Since we launched the high speed service in 2009, we've seen passenger numbers from London to Margate increase by around 60 percent. We've also seen a boost in numbers following the opening of the Turner Contemporary and the town is very popular in the summer, but we see less passengers travelling in the winter months.

– Charles Horton, Southeastern's Managing Director

Details of rail fare discounts

  • The £10 Portas Pilot ticket is less than a third of a regular off-peak day return from London to Margate (£31.10)
  • The Portas Pilot ticket will be available from the first weekend in November and will run through to the end of February 2013.
  • The ticket will be sold online only from the Southeastern website and is valid for travel on high speed, metro and mainline services from London to Margate, return.
  • 500 Portas Pilot tickets will be available each weekend, sold on a first come, first served basis.
  • Southeastern's Kids for a Quid offer is also available to be used with this ticket, where children can travel with an adult for £1.00.

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Mary Portas programme gathers support

Mary Portas with David Cameron in London Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

Southeastern Trains is to offer significant discounts on their rail fares from London to Margate over the winter months in support of the Mary Portas scheme to regenerate the town.

But the plans by the "Queen of Shops" have drawn criticism from local business leaders who say that she is more interested in making a TV programme rather than regenerating the high street.

Margate has been labelled as 'Britain's second worst ghost Town' with its 36.1% vacancy rate and is one of twelve 'Portas Pilot' towns Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Many of the town's shops stand empty Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Margate is one of twelve 'Portas Pilot' towns picked by Grant Schapps MP to receive help from retail guru Mary Portas. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

£10 getaway plan for Portas town

Mary Portas Credit: PA

Southeastern trains has announced a special £10 return ticket for travel from London to Margate during the winter, in support of the Portas Pilot initiative.

It is hoped the special fare will help boost visitor numbers to the town.

Charles Horton, the company's MD, said: “Since we launched the high speed service we’ve seen passenger numbers to Margate increase by around 60 percent. We’ve also seen a boost following the opening of the Turner Contemporary, but we see less passengers travelling in the winter months.

“I met with Mary Portas last week to share our enthusiasm for supporting the regeneration of Margate. We’re calling this the ‘Portas Pilot’ ticket and we hope it will encourage more visitors to travel to Margate on the weekends during winter.”

Mary Portas added: “This promotion sums up the spirit of the Portas Pilots. Everyone playing their part to bring the buzz back to our town centres. Get on board and find out what all the fuss is about.”

Portas pilot hits problems

Mary Portas has the backing of prime minister David Cameron Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

Four key people responsible for sprucing up Margate's High Street have resigned.

They were part of a team working on a pilot project by Mary Portas, who's known as the Queen of Shops.

The departures come after concerns were raised about the filming of a television documentary about the scheme.

Margate was one of twelve town centres which received a share of £1.2million pounds of government money to regenerate their local communities.

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Mary Portas chooses Brighton and Ashford

Retail guru Mary Portas Credit: PA

Ashford and Brighton have been chosen to become one of 15 new Portas Pilot towns, after being chosen in the second round of bids.

They beat around 400 towns to be selected by the Government to become one of retail guru Mary Portas’ pilot high streets, which will see the town centre benefit from invaluable support, advice and extra funding.

The chosen towns get a share of a £1.5million funding pot.

£100,000 from government will also be match funded by an additional £100,000 from contributions through the planning agreements to revitalise the Town Centre.

The Portas effect

Dartford has held its first farmers' market after it successfully applied to be a pilot town for retail guru Mary Portas. The town will now run a trial market two Sundays a month for six months. The next is on the second Sunday in August.

Trouble in store?

TV celebrity Mary Portas has sparked a row by appearing to threaten a public meeting in Margate that unless they allowed her television cameras in - she would withdraw her help from the town.

The self styled 'Queen of Shops' has been involved in a Government backed scheme to award twelve UK towns £100,000 for regeneration, but Miss Portas said her help came hand in hand with the cameras. Sarah Saunders reports.