Stowmarket: Town boss is ‘positive’ after Portas Pilot snub

THE reason why a Suffolk town failed in its second bid for regeneration cash is because it is “just not bad enough”, according to the town centre manager.

Sharon Brown, town centre manager for Stowmarket Town Centre Partnership, has reacted positively after hearing that it lost out again in a bid for more than �80,000 of ‘Portas Pilot’ money – Mary Portas’s scheme to regenerate town centres across the country.

Mrs Brown worked alongside Mid Suffolk District Council in putting a bid forward which centred around improving the twice-weekly market, encouraging entrepreneurship and skills in young people and a campaign to get residents to shop locally.

“The main reason was our occupancy rates – Stowmarket is not bad for the number of empty shops compared to the national average,” Mrs Brown said.

“We are just not bad enough. More deprived areas than us have won the money. We can swing it around to be a positive.”

Stowmarket failed in its first bid for Portas Pilot money in May but was automatically put in for the second round.

A recent report by Mid Suffolk District Council into the state of Stowmarket’s town centre warned that many residents shopped in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds because of the close proximity of the A14.

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Mrs Brown said she was going to attend a business meeting on Wednesday to discuss improvement plans for Stowmarket’s town centre. Braintree and Lowestoft were the only towns in East Anglia that were successful in the second round of bids for Portas Pilot money.

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