Towns in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire miss out on Mary Portas cash

Towns hoping for a �100,000 cash injection under a scheme led by retail guru Mary Portas have been left disappointed.

All the towns in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire who applied for the money to revitalise their high streets failed in their attempts to win a share of �1.2m.

Aylsham, Brandon, Diss, Great Yarmouth, Halesworth, Lowestoft, North Walsham, Southwold, Thetford and Wisbech joined bids from 370 towns from across the country, with 12 winners including Wolverhampton, Croydon and Bedford.

The winners will test the ideas of Ms Portas, dubbed Queen of Shops, who has joined forces with the government to spearhead a campaign to help high streets amid fierce competition from internet shopping and out-of-town developments.

Jacqui Fairfax, leader of the Wisbech bid, said the project was far from being over.


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'It's unfortunate not to have won, but a lot of good has come out of it all,' she added. 'It's been a huge catalyst for activity.'

Laura Churchill, who was leading the bid for Halesworth, said: 'I am very disappointed but I am sure we will pursue it and carry on for the second round.'

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Diss team leader Oliver Chapman was not despondent despite missing out on the money.

He said: 'It is a bit like saying you are disappointed to miss out on the lottery.'

Mair Stockdale, chairman of North Walsham Chamber of Trade, said the chamber would support any move to resubmit the town's bid. 'It's a shame but we will plod on and stay positive,' she added

Deborah Blake, chairman of the newly formed Aylsham and Business Enterprise Forum – which helped spearhead the town's bid – said com-munity leaders would be pressing ahead with a string of enhancement schemes, despite losing.

In Hunstanton secretary of the town team Mike Ruston said: 'Naturally we are disappointed but we understand the quality of the competition and the fact there were more needy cases.'

In Brandon portfolio holder for economic development and tourism, David Bowman, said: 'We've had some great support from traders in Brandon so we'll definitely continue to work with shops, businesses and the community to go forward with the project.'

In Thetford, the group leading the bid said it would go ahead with its plans anyway.

Local government minister Grant Shapps praised the Portas review into the high street as the 'catalyst communities craved' to get together and secure the future of their town centres.

A second round of the competition will see 15 additional pilots announced by the end of July.

COMMENT – Page 32

tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

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