Make bid for town to be a ‘Portas Pilot’

THE Government has recently announced that struggling towns and cities across England will be handed the chance to breathe new life into their ailing high streets.

Mary Portas and the Local Government Minister launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become ‘Portas Pilots’, with the winners benefiting from a share of £1 million to help turn around their ‘unloved and unused’ high streets.

He has offered the cash incentive to those towns that come up with the best High Street blueprints in a move that fulfils the first and last recommendations of Mary Portas’ High Streets Review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and published before Christmas.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said: “Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued. The Internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

“So today I’m offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become ‘Portas Pilots’ – areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary’s and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review.”

Mary Portas said “I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality. I hope my review has inspired people with another vision of tomorrow where our high streets are re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping. I want the first 12 Town Teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of.”

Taking forward the first recommendation from Mary Portas’s review, the 12 successful localities will create Town Teams, made up of the key players in their local community – such as the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP. Successful bidders will need to demonstrate how they have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities.

Boston Labour Councillors will be encouraging Boston Borough Council to put themselves forward as one of these pilot schemes.

We feel that after the long period that people have been without the Market Place, we need a bold plan for the future, so we will be encouraging our Conservative-run council to put in a bid and demonstrate their commitment to make Boston a thriving place to visit and shop. Has Boston Tories got the bottle to do this?