Suffolk/Essex: Towns snubbed in bid to become ‘Portas Pilots’

A SERIES of bids made by towns in Suffolk and Essex to become the first “Portas Pilots” - entitling them to funding and expert advice as they seek to regenerate high streets - have been unsuccessful.

The first 12 towns to receive a share of �1.2 million and get tailored support to help them implement rejuvenation plans were named today.

However there were none selected from Suffolk, Essex or Norfolk - despite a host of strong bids from the likes of Halesworth, Framlingham, Southwold, Leiston, Saxmundham and Aldeburgh.

There is still hope though that some may be selected in the second batch of pilots which will be announced by the end of July.

Some 370 applications for support were made in the first round, and the winners were announced today as Bedford, Bedfordshire; Croydon, Greater London; Dartford, Kent; Bedminster, Bristol; Liskeard, Cornwall; Margate, Kent; Market Rasen, Lincolnshire; Nelson, Lancashire; Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland; Stockport, Greater Manchester; Stockton on Tees, Teesside; and Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said: “The best local high streets offer more than simply shopping - they are the beating heart of their neighbourhoods: places to meet, work, relax and come together as a community.

“It’s why this competition to become a Portas pilot has captured the imagination of the nation, with communities across the country uniting to support their high streets.”

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Ms Portas said: “I’ve been deeply touched by both the quality and creativity of the bids and the momentum Britain’s first town teams have generated in just a few short weeks.

“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.”