Trophy Blog #110 –
Mixed news has arrived two years after the High Street Portas project was put in place in
various locations. "Queen of Shops" celebrity Mary Portas has received positive reviews,
but at the same time, come under fire after her mission to revive the UK's High Streets.
Twelve town centres had been chosen, and the government provided £1.2m in funding.
A local group of business men and women applied on behalf of Selby at the time, but
we're unsuccessful in the main funding. However £10,000 was issued to the Selby enterprise
to help with a future project. This is still in the planning stage and more news will be
issued via the Selby Times once announced. The whole project was filmed and aired on TV
two years ago. During the programmes, Mary issued some basic recommendations to each
location such as a reduction in business rates and free local parking, but these we're
ignored by the councils. The money helped finance five retail outlets in Wolverhampton.
Three of them have been a success, one has diversified, and the fifth went bust. Four out
of five is a good success rate as the economy was in a nose dive at the time, but people
will focus on the negatives of the 5th business folding. Chairman of the Government's
Business Select Committee, Adrian Bailey, has been critical of the scheme: "You will not
change the basic problems of the High Street just by putting in these sort of pilots”.
However Penny Maudaunt, the High Streets Minister, says the scheme has been successful.
"There has been a huge amount of really good work and ideas come out of the project,
some ideas may not have worked so well, what we have to do now is replicate the positives
in other High Streets."