Mr Shapps 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.
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 socializing, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping. I want the first twelve 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.
These teams will then benefit from the backing of the Minister, Whitehall and Mary Portas herself as they take forward the recommendations from the review and in their area. They will also receive a share of £1 million.
Grant Shapps added:
"I want to see how these Town Teams plan to try new things, experiment and ensure that their high streets and parades become destinations for local people want to be. But these pilots are just the start. We want to learn their lessons and help communities across the country breathe new life into their own towns. Launching this competition now is a signal of our understanding that there’s no time to waste in driving forward these important measures."
Mr Shapps will give the full Government response to the review by the Spring.
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.
Areas will need to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades, but not just in a staid application form – Mr Shapps would also like to see their pitches to become Portas Pilots in short YouTube clips.
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