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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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West Cumbrian traders hold on to hope in Mary Portas high street bid

Maryport has suffered a blow in its bid to gain funding to breathe life into its high street.

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HIGH STREET REVIVAL: Queen of shops Mary Portas has suggested that affordable parking in town centres will aid retail recovery

The town has been unsuccessful in its request for a slice of the £1.2 million Mary Portas fund to boost town centres.

But traders have been given hope because the Government has announced that it will support a further round of 15 pilot schemes.

Maryport will be automatically entered into the second round of bids. The winners will be announced in July.

Kevin Kerrigan, Allerdale council planning and economic growth manager, said: “We are hugely disappointed that Maryport was not selected to be one of the Mary Portas pilot projects.

“With over 370 entries from towns across the country, there was tough competition.

“We have an opportunity to review the bid and we will consider whether there are any areas where we can add to the proposal.”

Retail expert Mary Portas was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to lead an independent review into the future of Britain’s high streets.

Maryport’s bid was put together by traders and Allerdale council because of concern over the number of shop closures in the town.

The first 12 Portas pilots selected were: Bedford, Croydon in Greater London, Dartford in Kent, Bedminster in Bristol, Liskeard in Cornwall, Margate in Kent, Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, Nelson in Lancashire, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, Stockport in Greater Manchester, Stockton-on-Tees in Teesside and Wolverhampton.

Gill Elliot, owner of the 46 Senhouse Street shop, said: “Traders were disappointed but are hopeful that Maryport might succeed in the second round.

“We need to do a more business-like presentation than the first one.

“I don’t think we gave enough details about what we wanted.

“I would like to see the traders come together and have a brainstorm.”

Jill Skinner, owner of The Lily Basket, said: “It was a bit of a blow to miss out but I still have hope of it coming here.”

Mary Dixon, manageress of John Dixon & Son, said: “Let’s hope we still get it. It may give a boost to Maryport and its shops.”

Graham Burrow, owner of Design D’Interieur, said: “It would be nice to see some more regeneration in the area.”

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