Heanor’s ‘golden ticket’ hopes for Portas scheme

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A BID to see Heanor become one of the towns included in the Mary Portas pilot scheme could be considered.

The retail guru, famed for the TV show Mary Queen of Shops, recently unveiled the Portas Review, which sets out her vision for revitalising town centre trade in the UK.

This week London’s leading marketing consultant announced plans to trial the Portas model in 12 pilot towns - offering successful bidders £100,000 towards improvements as well as the support of Mary Portas herself, the Government and Whitehall.

And key players in Heanor are backing a possible bid to see the town included in the pilot scheme.

Chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce George Cowcher said: “Through working in partnership, we have managed to build up some real momentum behind the campaign to breathe new life into Heanor and this places the town in a really strong position to put itself forward for this new initiative.

“It’s important to ensure that everybody is behind this, so we will be asking shoppers, traders and the community to give their views on whether the town should go for it at the next public meeting.”

The deadline for applications to enter the Portas pilot scheme is March 30 and the next public meeting is set to take place in early March.

Successful applicants are encouraged to form a Town Team, which could consist of landlords, developers, public service providers, retailers and local authorities among others. The Town Team will be responsible for driving trade towards the high street.

Chairman of Heanor Traders’ Association Simon Minto said: “I think it is a good idea. It would bring 100,000 to the town, a lot of publicity and scope – but the money has to be used positively.”

Heanor Mayor Bob Janes is also behind the bid in principle, but believes the £100,000 pilot grant will not go very far.

“You could do up a couple of shops and that would be about it,” he said. “But I think Heanor would benefit from any input and ideas – it is definitely worth a go.”

Towns must fill out a lengthy application form and can even submit Youtube videos to show they are worthy of one of the 12 pilot places – being dubbed ‘golden tickets’.

Head to www.communities.gov.uk/publications/regeneration/portaspilotsprospectus to find out more about the entry criteria.

I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality. I hope my Review has inspired people with a new vision for tomorrow where our High Streets are re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, wellbeing, learning, as well as shopping.