Disappointment as Brid’s bid for Portas Pilot cash fails

TV shopping guru Mary Portas.
TV shopping guru Mary Portas.
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BRIDLINGTON has once again missed out on becoming a Portas Pilot but there is now a chance that the town could win backing from a multi-million pound Government support package.

And the town’s renaissance team are now exploring the possibility of encouraging pop up shops to make use of empty retail units in the town as part of a range of ideas in the pipeline to improve the town’s high street.

Businesses and traders had hoped to become one of 12 towns to benefit from the Portas Pilot scheme and receive a share of £1.2m government funding aimed at breathing life back into the high street.

After missing out in the first round the backers of Bridlington’s bid refused to be disheartened, made some changes to their original submission, and re-entered it as part of a second selection round.

But it has now been confirmed that Bridlington has not been chosen to be one of the further 15 towns chosen across the UK to be part of the Portas Pilot scheme, taking the total number to benefit from the Portas Pilot scheme to 27.

Renaissance programme manager for Bridlington Liz Philpott said they felt “disappointed but not down-trodden” and had always been realistic about their chances of beating off competition from almost 400 other towns bidding for the funding.

“We were realistic all the way along and the competition was high. We made a few amendments to our bid but there were still over 300 other towns in the running so we had always been realistic but we had to be in it to win it,” she said.

Now all those places not selected to be Portas Pilots have the chance to become a Town Team Partner, giving them access to a package of support worth £5.5m nationwide to help them put their plans into action.

Local Government Minister Grants Shapps has invited MPs to sign a national pledge to become a Town Team Partner, an option which Ms Philpot said they would now look into.

“We will be looking at all options, that’s something that we will look into. There may be other options out there to make use of,” Ms Philpot said.

“There are various things we can do without the money,” she added.

The Bridlington bid focussed on King Street Market and attracted wide support from the town council, the Lords Feoffees, the Chamber of Commerce, ERYC Business Services and the Free Press.

Now Ms Philpot said over the coming months they will be trying to address issues that were identified in a street audit conducted in May, improving access to the support of the Business Centre, as well as making use of new legislation to make it easier to set up temporary shops in empty retail spaces.

“The thing that we have identified when looking at the bid is there are still things that can be done, such as looking at the street scene on King Street and working with the market traders to make sure we have an attractive area that people come into.”

“We had some new shop openings at the beginning of the season so we’re not doing too badly. The main message will be to shop local and support the businesses that are there trying to make a go of it,” she added.