Town hopes for second time lucky with Portas bid

Mary Queen of Shops visited Rugby today (Wednesday), where she spoke with local business owners.
Mary Queen of Shops visited Rugby today (Wednesday), where she spoke with local business owners.

THE team striving to win the support of high street guru Mary Portas for Boston are hoping it will be second time lucky, after failing to successfully become one of the first dozen ‘Portas Pilot’ towns.

On Saturday, local government minister Grant Shapps revealed the list of places to bag the lucrative combination of support from ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ and a £100,000 funding pot, with Boston missing out.

The town will get a second chance to bid for success though, and with entries for the next round due in by June 30 Boston’s Portas bid team will have chance to tweak its entry.

BID Manager Niall Armstrong said: “Clearly we were happy with the application that we submitted.

“My thoughts were that it wouldn’t harm to look at what the successful ones did.”

Boston’s bid team had hoped the expertise of Mary Portas, coupled with the cash, could help boost the town’s economic fortunes. Campaigners eyed up spending the money on improing the town’s look, developing its heritage trail and investing in the twice-weekly market.

It also wanted to fund street entertainment, improve shop fronts and for publicity and promotion of the town.

The winners announced at the weekend were Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Bedminster, Liskeard, Margate, Market Rasen, Nelson, Newbiggin by the Sea, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton

Mr Armstrong added: “A lot of those towns are in a worse position than Boston. In one sense it could be positive that Boston does not have so much need as the others but it would be nice to have the help of Mary Portas and her team.

“The money would be nice but I think the best thing would have been the access to her expertise.

“It would have been somebody who doesn’t know Boston coming in to make observations and she does know what she’s talking about.”

The Portas team is expected to meet to decide on its second bid in the coming days.