Hopes that town will become a ‘Portas pilot’ Add your comments
Last updated at 11:42, Thursday, 09 February 2012
WHITEHAVEN is looking to put in a strong bid to be among 12 towns being picked to take part in a new government-backed Mary Portas pilot scheme, which aims to help communities with struggling high streets.
Those chosen will get up to £100,000 in grants and first-hand advice from Mary, Queen of Shops.
Enterprise and retail groups together with local authority representatives will consider the challenges and opportunities offered by the pilot scheme under which up to £100,000 will be available from the government to invest in initiatives aimed at improving what a town centre has to offer.
Whitehaven Chamber of Trade secretary Alan Blacklock said: “We are to get together with Enterprise Whitehaven to discuss a way forward with this. I would like to think we could get into the top 12 but there are so many other towns in the same boat as us it will no doubt be very competitive. But we could demonstrate the hard work that is being done now by business representatives to promote Whitehaven. Any efforts made would still benefit the town and enhance our aims for it to become a better place to visit and shop.’’
Member Charles Maudling added: “This scheme is definitely something we should be seriously looking at. Anything that can give a lift to King Street and help regenerate the town would be very much welcomed.’’
Dianne Richardson, of Enterprise Whitehaven, is excited by the opportunity and says it is definitely something Whitehaven should be trying for. “The support from the business community is crucial and the key thing will be to get a good Town Team together, which the process demands. But I think we would have a very good chance – we tick all the boxes and already have a lot of good people working hard on improving the town.’’
The Department for Communities and Local Government has agreed to the Portas Pilot scheme in response to the independent review into the future of the high street that Mary Portas carried out last year. Shops are facing stiff competition from internet shopping and out-of-town retail parks.
Her report set out a vision that “the high streets of the future should be multi-functional and social places bustling with people, services and jobs which offer a clear and compelling purpose and experience that’s not available elsewhere, and which meets the interests and needs of local people.’’
The report made a number of recommendations to which the government will resp-ond to in full in the spring but in the meantime, in a keenness to get things moving, her proposals to run a number of high street pilots has been taken up.
The government is inviting applications by March 30 from local partnerships for grant funding. To take the pilot forward, a town would be expected to put in place a Town Team. The government says: “We are looking for pilot areas with a transformational vision for their high street and the backing to make it a reality.
“The lead partner should be able to cl-early articulate this vision and demonstrate strong support for it from the local community and a wide range of local partners.’’
Copeland Council has expressed its support. Coun Phil Great-orex, portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “The scheme sounds like an exciting initiative which will help to regenerate some of Britain’s town centres.
“We are keen to work with our partners in the business community to put forward a strong bid for funding for Whitehaven.
“We believe that the Portas Pilot, along with the plans already in place for the transformation of Whitehaven, will have a huge impact on the town and contribute to the development of Whitehaven as Copeland’s cultural centre.”
The Association of Town Centre Management says the launch of Portas Pilots is a good start but that much more is needed. Its chief executive Martin Blackwell adds: “Much is at stake, with the character of the heart of every community throughout the land under threat.”
First published at 11:11, Thursday, 09 February 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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RE: Tommy - People don't shop here because not everyone likes charity shops and not everyone wants to book a holiday or go to the bank or sit in a cafe all day, in your words - WAKE UP!!!
Tommy: a typical example of 'my sons the only one in step'. The implication of your comment is that you are the only one who comments who has intgelligence. Erm, wake up Tommy. Take a look around, chav town and all that goes with that. Silly boy.
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