Mr Shapps issued a call to MPs from the 392 Town Teams not chosen, to come forward and sign a national pledge to become a Town Team Partner – enabling access to a package of support to their own town. The package of support is worth £5.5million nationwide.
Those that sign up to become Town Team Partners will receive backing from a multi-million pound support programme to help put elements of their plans into action. But they will also have the opportunity to:
– Get access to events, workshops and seminars across the country addressing key challenges facing struggling town centres;
– Receive direct mentoring support and visits from experts with a range of relevant backgrounds;
– Directly benefit from the experience of the 27 Portas Pilots;
– Meet regularly with town teams across the country to share their experiences and lessons learned; and
– Join an online community to receive tips and advice from retail experts
The Town Team Partners will also benefit from a new web-based encyclopaedia – 100 Ways to Help the High Street, which will be hosted and run by the Association of Town Centre Management. The ATCM will also work with the areas selected as Town Team Partners to help them progress their proposals.
Business in the Community will also marshal support from businesses, retailers and trade bodies both for the Town Team Partners and the 27 Portas Pilots.
Further details will be announced later this year.
This additional package of support forms part of a wider response to Mary Portas’s Review, which was published last December. All town teams from across the country will also be able to bid for a £1million Future High Street X-Fund to reward the most effective and creative schemes to encourage people back to the town centres in 2013, and a £500,000 fund to help access set-up loans for new Business Improvement Districts.
Grant Shapps said:
"Today I’d like to congratulate the 15 town teams that, in the face of stiff competition, have been selected to be the next Portas Pilots. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’m determined that we don’t turn our backs on the other 392 Town Teams who put their plans forward to revive their high streets.
"That’s why I’m calling on these communities, led by their MPs, to put themselves forward once again to become Town Team Partners. Each one that applies will benefit from a package of support to refine their plans and get the help and advice they need to bring their town centres back to life.
"I don’t want to lose the incredible momentum and I want to know that no town is left behind after such an enthusiastic and imaginative response to Mary Portas’s review. So alongside the 27 Portas Pilots across the country, these Town Team Partners will also be able to revive their high streets and make them the beating hearts of their communities once again."
Martin Blackwell, chief executive of the Association of Town Centre Management, said:
"The response to the challenge created by the government’s response to the Mary Portas report from communities in towns and cities across England was enormous. It is terrific to see the government acknowledging that groundswell of activity in such a positive way.
"To enhance this support ATCM is launching a new web based encyclopedia – 100 Ways to Help the High Street – which will be available this Friday to all areas and Town Teams, at www.100ways.org.uk (external link).
"We look forward to taking the same collegiate approach to working with all the Portas Pilot and Town Team Partner towns that we have done in hundreds of towns and cities across the UK and Ireland for many years."
Have your say on this story using the comment section below