Rural towns among 'Portas Pilots'

MARKET towns are among 12 of the first 'Portas pilots' entitled to funding and regeneration advice.

The towns will receive tailored support and a share of £1.2 million to implement rejuvenation plans.

They were chosen from some 370 bids for support to a government initiative headed up by retail consultant Mary Portas.

The government hopes the project will breathe new life into high streets hit by recession.

Unveiled on Saturday (26 May), the winning bids are:

* 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
* Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Details and videos about each town can be found by clicking here.

Local government Minister Grant Shapps said competition to become a Portas pilot had captured the imagination of the nation.

By submitting applications, communities across the country had united to support their high streets.

Mr 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."

Ms Portas said she had been "deeply touched by both the quality and creativity of the bids".

Britain's first town teams have generated considerable momentum in just a few short weeks.

"It is now clearer to me than ever that Britain wants its town centres revitalised and the energy," said Ms Portas.

"Accountability for that needs to rest with the people who live and do business there. My sincere congratulations to everyone who entered."

In return for the funding, towns are expected to deliver fresh,vibrant and exciting ideals that will invigorate their locality and mobilise communities under the leadership of their new town teams.

The Portas Pilots website says the country will expect towns to "deliver a new blueprint and benchmark for all British towns.

A second batch of 12 pilots will be unveiled by the end of July.


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