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News - 4 February 2012

High Streets invited to bid for £1m funding but thankfully Brighton won’t qualify

The government wants to find a dozen High Streets in England to share £1m as part of a pilot proposed by TV retail guru Mary Portas in her recent review of retail. But they have to be “run-down” which certainly precludes Brighton & Hove.

Areas will be asked to submit video applications for support from a dedicated team including Mary Portas herself.

Describing the scheme as a "golden ticket" for town centres, local government minister Grant Shapps said, "What we're looking for are innovative ideas, towns who [sic] are prepared to come together, put together their own town-teams, involving retailers and landlords and probably their local council and MP, to put their proposals forward that work in their particular area."

In her review [see earlier story] Mary Portas waxed lyrical about town centres being managed through new "town teams" who would be responsible for developing businesses in the area and also Business Improvement Districts [BIDs].

The British Retail Consortium [BRC] has been positive about the plan but points out that £1m spread between 12 towns [about £83,000 each] will not go far.

But the Local Government Association [LGA] has said that the pilot "simply tinkers around the edges". Spokesperson Peter Box said, "We urge the government to step up and give councils some real power," "Councils don't want to see short-term schemes - instead they want to see some firm action and a commitment from all government departments and agencies."

Everyone is encouraged to apply as pilots will be chosen from a wide mix of areas from villages and market towns to larger town centres.

Applicants must demonstrate a transformational vision for their high street along with the backing to make it a reality. Pilot areas must show maximum commitment to the Town Team approach, demonstrating key stakeholders working together for the good of the community

Applicants must be able to demonstrate a potential for improvement as resources will be allocated on a value for money basis. Key priorities should be outlined which are innovative and could be replicated elsewhere

To download a prospectus and application form, please visit Applications, including submission of a video outlining why your area should be chosen, must be received by 30th March 2012, with the successful pilots being notified in May 2012.

Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
British Retail Consortium
Local Government Association
Portas, Mary
Shapps, Grant

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