Halesworth: Town bids for ‘queen of shops’ retail grant

A SUFFOLK town is hoping to share in a million pound fund to revitalise the country’s high streets.

Halesworth is planning to apply for the Portas Pilot Town scheme, set up by retail guru Mary Portas and the Government to invest in regeneration projects for up to 12 locations across England.

The town council this week agreed to submit a bid, including a video explaining why Halesworth should be selected, in time for the application deadline at the end of the month.

Each chosen town or city could receive up to �100,000 and advice from Ms Portas and a team of retail experts. The cash will be awarded to the applicants with the best methods of fulfilling recommendations of the Mary Portas High Streets Review, including setting up a Town Team, made up of members of the community.

Councillor Ezra Leverett, who has already put together ideas to attract Ms Portas and her team, said: “In light of the Portas Review, traders in Halesworth suggested we ought to be proactive and apply to be a pilot town by compiling the hopes and aspirations that would fit in with the aims and strategies of the programme.

“This is a fantastic town. We feel we are unique and have something to offer. It was difficult to pick from so many ideas to put forward for the bid, which we think has to involve retailers, traders and landlords and has to show a connection with everyone in the town.”

Council chairman James Wagner added: “There is no harm in applying for something that could really enhance the town centre. I think we should support a bid.”

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The Government announced the scheme last month following Ms Portas’ independent review and recommendations for local authorities and businesses to help revive the high street, commissioned by the Prime Minister in December.

As part of the application bid, the town council will post a video to the web highlighting ideas for improving the town. It has been suggested that the video may be made by pupils from a local school.

Meanwhile, Lowestoft and Diss are among the other towns that will be vying for funding from the scheme.