HERALD COMMENT: Missing out on Mary Portas cash is not the end of the world

EASTBOURNE missing out on the second stash of Mary Portas cash is disappointing but not disheartening.

For whatever reason, the Queen of Shops and those in her close court decided that Eastbourne’s case wasn’t as good as others. Perhaps too much hope was attached to her recent visit to the town and her praise for what she saw.

The money – up to £100k – would have been a nice shot in the arm for Eastbourne’s embryonic town team as it seeks to refocus attention on the town centre and how to regenerate it – not just during shopping hours, but as a complete leisure experience, too.

But the money is a drop in the ocean against what businesses and retailers can achieve themselves with the right frame of mind. And that’s where the town team is making a real impact. Its energy is proving infectious and its first public event was a big success in seeking to enthuse shoppers. Another such day is to follow shortly.

And let’s not forget that Eastbourne Borough Council has already funded the group to the tune of £100k itself. Given this and the impetus now behind the Arndale Centre extension and Eastbourne has a catalyst for change that many other towns will envy.

And as Mary closed one door, another was pushed open as the county council finally played its hands after three years of parking pain for the town.

Some would say that the £2m being provided by the county council to help fund pedestrian and transport iniatives is simply giving back what had already been sucked out of the town’s economy.

Largely true, of course, but in such tough economic times a £2m injection will still be a huge bonus if the money is used wisely alongside the Arndale development.

Mary, Queen of Shops, may not have come up trumps for us. But the town team could still hold plenty of aces.

TALKING of the town centre, don’t forget the launch of the new weekly street market next Wednesday, August 1. A quality selection of stalls will offer something new and different, so get up to the top end of Terminus Road and take a look. . . .