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News - 25 July 2012
Brighton's London Road

Brighton gets £83k in second round of 'Portas Pilots'

Brighton’s London Road is included in the second group of towns in England selected to run pilot schemes based on Mary Portas' suggestions for improving high street vitality.

It is among 15 selected from over 400 applications after the initial group of 12 pilot towns was announced in May [see earlier story].

In order to be selected, towns and cities had to submit bids that included details of how they would go about implementing the recommendations in the Portas Review [see earlier story], as well proposals designed to address specific local problems. The bid had to include a video that was specifically not professionally made.

In addition to Brighton the other 14 new pilot areas are: Ashford, Berwick, Braintree, Hatfield, Leamington, Liverpool, Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Loughborough, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Rotherham and Tiverton.

The successful areas will receive a cash grant and also have access to mentoring support from a range of organisations, including the Association of Town Centre Management and Business in the Community.

The Brighton bid was put together by the Council’s economic development officer Rob Dawson in record time [the government is developing a habit of imposing near-impossible timetables on funding bids] working with City College Brighton and Hove, London Road traders and the Brighton & Hove Business Crime Reduction Partnership. Rob is to be congratulated for his excellent work.

The Brighton bid includes five main themes:

Creative and enterprising use of empty premises
A pop-up ‘ideas lab’ will utilise the abundance of innovate digital companies based in the New England Quarter, and helped build connectivity down to London Road. An indoor market for new entrepreneurs and students to test their business ideas will harness Brighton & Hove’s enterprising culture. Pop-up art galleries and workshops will engage the local community.

Retail training and a community window dressing scheme
Working with larger retailers and/or expert retail trainers, smaller shops in the London Rd area will receive a range of tailored skills training, such as negotiating rent reviews, window dressing and shop-layout. Last year’s council-funded “Dressed for Success” scheme included a public competition alongside window dressing training with over 3,400 votes cast; this approach will be tested in London Road Town Centre.

Business crime radio scheme for safer streets
Working with the Business Forum's Business Crime Reduction Partnership [BCRP] and London Road Local Action Team [LAT] to make the high street safer. A subsidised radio scheme will be piloted which will allow businesses to share information on criminal activity in the area, report incidents and improve links between traders.

Arts Events to boost the night time economy
Following the example of White Night, a free all-night public art event, a number of unique and innovative arts events and activities would be targeted to increase evening/night time footfall and draw in people who currently do not visit London Road.

Improving links with landlords
Working with commercial agents, the Town Team will be engaging landlords and creating a public register of ownership in London Road Town Centre. Long-term solutions will be soutght for the empty shops problem.

Read related items on:
Business Crime Reduction Partnership
Association of Town Centre Management
Brighton & Hove City Council
Business Community Partnership
City College Brighton & Hove
Dawson, Rob
Portas, Mary
London Road

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