Case for Thetford to benefit from magic touch of Mary Portas taken to government

A Norfolk town's bid to enlist the aid of Queen of Shops Mary Portas in transforming its High Street has gone all the way to the House of Commons.

A delegation from Thetford yesterday travelled to London for a meeting with communities minister Grant Shapps to showcase their ambitious blueprint to breathe new life into the town.

The School of Radical Thought in Thetford (Sort It) is made up of 16 public figures including town councillors and business owners, which would like to take ownership of the town by selling shares for between �25 and �1,000 and using the money to buy redundant shops and buildings.

The group hopes the idea will see Thetford picked as one of the 12 towns to be a Portas Pilot, spearheaded by high street tsar Mary Portas.

There is �1m available to be divided among those dozen towns, which will also benefit from the expertise of marketing consultant and television presenter Ms Portas.

Yesterday's meeting with communities minister Mr Shapps, was set up by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who has backed the bid.

Among those at the meeting were Thetford and Breckland councillor Terry Jermy, Breckland councillor Mark Robinson and Thetford town councillor Corinne Fulford.

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Ms Fulford, who manages the town's Dad's Army & Charles Burrell Museums, said Mr Shapps had been impressed by the bid - and by the Dad's Army coasters the team presented him with. She said: 'It was a fantastic meeting and I don't think it could have gone any better. What we focused on was that our bid was quite unique and that we have got the community and businesses on board.

'He did say that they have had more than 370 applications, but Thetford has got so much potential that we really think it should stand a chance.

'We have got people joining in every day buying shares. It's really encouraging that they are prepared to do that.'

People are encouraged to become members of Sort It by buying a share for as little as �5 per year, or �25 for corporate membership or voluntary or community groups.

For a shares application form visit the Thetford Tourist Information office in Kings Street or visit

To offer support, contact the Sort It team on 01842 751975.