Eastbourne bid for share of £1m Portas pilot cash

File photo dated 14/06/10 of Mary Portas who is to lead a review aimed at developing 'more prosperous and diverse high streets' across the country, the Government announced today.
File photo dated 14/06/10 of Mary Portas who is to lead a review aimed at developing 'more prosperous and diverse high streets' across the country, the Government announced today.

EASTBOURNE has put in a bid to become a Portas Pilot and take a share of £1 million up for grabs to help rejuvenate the town centre.

The town is one of hundreds to apply for the funding and advice from the retail guru Mary Portas.

Portas, 51, is famed for being one of the country’s best retail consultants and has become a household name following her numerous television shows.

She started her television career in 2007 on BBC 2 with Mary Queen of Shops, which had three series.

She then went over to Channel 4 in 2011 for Mary Portas: Secret Shopper and Mary Queen of Frocks.

Last month she took on the challenge to manufacture a new British knicker collection for retail in a Channel 4 documentary called Mary’s Bottom Line.

In May 2011 she was appointed by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to lead an independent review into the future of the high street.

The Portas Review, published in December last year, set out what she thought had led to the decline of the high street and made 28 recommendations about what could be done ‘to breathe life back into them’.

As a result, the Portas Pilot was put in place and comes after the government said town centres were facing ‘serious challenges from out-of-town shopping centres and the internet’.

One of the recommendations Mary Portas has put forward is a Town Team to provide management team for high streets.

Eastbourne has set up a Town Team as part of its bid for the Portas Pilot, which include members of local businesses and various traders’ associations.

The town’s MP Stephen Lloyd says it is a strong team and a very positive addition to the town.

Mr Lloyd explained he had started the process but that the Town Team had ‘gelled incredibly well together’ and were now leading the project.

The town’s MP explained he was still there to support the team but added, “I was the catalyst, but in order to be a success it is crucial it is led by local people.

“It makes it more sustainable if key individuals are leading it because they have to step up to the plate.

“Local people will give it long-term strength and depth because they themselves will have roles of leadership and responsibility.

“It is less about politicians fixing things and more about the local people making it happen.”

Mr Lloyd said all members of the Town Team had been fantastic and put forward a strong bid for the Portas Pilot.

He added, “I’m confident Eastbourne has a good chance of winning the bid but if it doesn’t win it, I am sure Eastbourne is going in the right direction with the Town Team.

“The group is made up of inspirational, creative, innovative and passionate people who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and make a difference.

“They will play a key role in the future of Eastbourne town centre come what may and I think that is a really positive thing.”

Although the members of the Town Team will be leading the project, Mr Lloyd said he was still backing the team and would do anything that was needed whether in parliament or in Eastbourne.

• {http://bit.ly/JMfSxU|Sussex Downs pupils have made a video for the bid, to view click here|http://bit.ly/JMfSxU