12 towns win Portas cash

Twelve towns across the UK have been chosen as the Portas pilots in a government initiative to rejuvenate the nation's high streets and town centres.

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London mayor praises 'fantastic' Portas scheme

Boris Johnson pictured in Croydon in 2008. Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Driving growth and creating jobs through the rejuvenation of London's high streets is at the heart of my mayoralty and the Portas pilot initiative is a fantastic way to help us achieve this.

"Through our regeneration drive we have already started reversing the decay of our high streets that had been allowed set in through long-term underinvestment.

"So I'm looking forward to receiving some innovative ideas which will help lead the way in steering London out of recession and get these vital economic centres booming again."

Failure to be Portas Pilot is 'punch in guts for unsuccessful bidders'

Bedford town centre is a Portas Pilot. Credit: ITV Anglia

Chris Wade, chief executive of national charity Action for Market Towns said: "Mary Portas is genuinely passionate about rejuvenating high streets and towns.

"So are the communities which worked so hard to submit innovative and creative Portas Pilot applications.

"But to turn the process of support for our ailing high streets into a competition, then let the losers watch while a different £10m pot (the 'High Street Innovation Fund' ) is handed out which may not benefit them is a punch in the guts for the unsuccessful bidders."

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KPMG: 'Government must tackle issues that negatively affect retailers'

Whilst schemes such as Portas Pilots may offer some short term fixes, the Government must tackle the underlying issues that negatively affect all retailers, not just those on the High Street. The reform of business rates comes top of this list.

A complete rethink of the current system...could provide the long-term relief that the retail industry desperately needs.

...Not all high streets may survive, however with the right guidance, community and government support, some will evolve, changing their composition to suit the modern UK consumer and his or her local community.

– Helen Dickinson, head of UK Retail at the audit and tax giant KPMG

Grant Shapps: Portas pilots are 'good news' for town centres

Twelve towns across the UK have been chosen as Portas Pilots in a government scheme to rejuvenate the nation's high streets and town centres.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps says the Portas Pilots have brought forward "ideas and energy" and have created lots of work across the country.

Mr Shapps said they were "good news" for town centres and were a "good first step" in generating more business.

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Towns helped with marketing, arts and entrepreneurial support

The following towns will receive:

  • Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland - better branding of the town, improving local transport and hosting pop up shops.
  • Stockport, Gtr Manchester - improving markets and Underbanks areas with a creative arts complex, outdoor screenings, a new parking strategy and street champions.
  • Stockton on Tees, North Yorks - live entertainment at the Globe Theatre to boost evening leisure economy alongside specialist High Street and evening markets.
  • Wolverhampton - modern day town criers and on-street performers and a dragons den style competition to support local entrepreneurs.

What can the Portas pilots expect?

  • Bedford - offering support for High Street firms and community use of empty properties.
  • Croydon - transforming the riot-stricken areas into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter.
  • Dartford - opening up central spaces for use by classes and clubs and starting a school for shopkeepers.
  • Bedminster, Bristol - putting town on the map for street art and street theatre. Bicycle rickshaw service and a review of parking
  • Liskeard, Cornwall - competing against the edge of town supermarket with a vibrant arts scene, guerrilla gardening and yarn bombing
  • Margate - putting education and enjoyment at the heart of the town centres transformation
  • Market Rasen, Lincs - restoring the market town look and feel, advertising free parking and mentoring new businesses
  • Nelson, Lancs - young persons café, sports activities, and a new art and vintage market.

Portas pilot scheme broadly welcomed

The competition to be one of the first 12 Portas pilots has galvanised activity across England focused on improving High Streets.

It is a tribute to the resilience of the British public that so many people are willingly volunteering their time, energy and imagination towards saving and improving their own town centreneighbourhoods at the present time.

The ATCM looks forward to working with and assisting all the applicants, not just the winners, during the months that lie ahead.

– Martin Blackwell, CEO of the Association of Town Centre Management

Portas Pilots launch welcomed by British Council of Shopping Centres

With high street pilots being such a central plank to Mary Portas recommendations to Government, today's announcement of the winning Town Teams is fantastic news.

Local communities from up and down the country have submitted some incredibly innovative ideas designed to boost struggling high streets, and the enthusiasm demonstrated is to be applauded.

We look forward to working closely with them in delivering these ambitious plans, providing free mentoring from within our membership and drawing upon the vast experience therein to maximise what can be achieved.

However, importantly we consider this the first step in what should be a crucial ongoing initiative for Britain - both in the context of local community and the wider economy.

– Peter Drummond, President, British Council of Shopping Centres
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