Laura Sharman 28 May 2012

First 'Portas Pilots' are chosen

The 12 town centres chosen as the first Portas Pilots have been announced by local government minister, Mr Grant Shapps.

Each winning bid will receive a share of £1.2m and tailored support from retail guru Mary Portas. Each pilot will test out measures in Portas High Street Review in a bid to rejunevante the town centre

Portas said ‘It is now clearer to me than ever that Britain wants its town centres revitalised and the energy and accountability for that needs to rest with the people who live and do business there. My sincere congratulations to everyone who entered.

Mr Shapps also ammounced the second round of the competiiton, which will see 15 more town centres become Portas Pilots.

The first round winners are:

· Bedford, Bedfordshire - offering mentoring support for High Street businesses and community use of empty properties.

· Croydon, Greater London - transforming the riot-stricken area's historic Old Town market into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter.

· Dartford, Kent - opening up central spaces for use by classes and clubs, from the Scouts to Slimming World and starting a 'school for shopkeepers'.

· Bedminster, Bristol - putting Bedminster on the map for Street Art and Street Theatre. A bicycle rickshaw service and a review of parking will also tackle the traffic environment.

· Liskeard, Cornwall - competing against the edge of town supermarket with a vibrant arts scene, guerrilla gardening and yarn bombing to inject fun back into the town centre.

· Margate, Kent - putting education and enjoyment at the heart of the town centre's transformation with courses, 'job club' services and pop up shops.

· Market Rasen, Lincolnshire - drawing customers in by restoring the market town look and feel, advertising free parking and mentoring new businesses.

· Nelson, Lancashire - attracting local students with a young persons café, sports activities, and a new art and vintage market.

· Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland - better branding of the town to draw people in, improving local transport and hosting pop up shops.

· Stockport, Greater Manchester - realising the character and potential of the Markets and Underbanks area with a creative arts complex, outdoor screenings, a new parking strategy and street champions.

· Stockton on Tees, Teeside - live entertainment at the Globe Theatre to boost the evening leisure economy alongside specialist High Street and evening markets.

· Wolverhampton, West Midlands - bringing the city will to life with modern day town criers and on-street performers and a 'dragon's den' style competition to support local entrepreneurs.

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