12 towns around the country are going to share £1m of Government funding to implement some of Mary Portas’s findings in a way which could be replicated across the country. Submissions need to be in by 31st March.
Scour the regional press and you’ll find Gowsthorpe, Accrington and Liskeard are gearing up to submit bids for some of the money. What did Mary propose? Establishing National Market Day, creating a Town Team – a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets, schemes and incentives for landlords and a better relationship between national retailers and local independents. These all sound like good things that a town like Ashbourne would benefit from. Imagine the tourism boost from the PR associated with a successful bid. Imagine the feelgood factor of a consensus bid from the Town. Imagine the disappointment if local groups with these very agendas don’t step up and give it a go.
All it takes is for some authority in the town – someone who can unite retailers, the market, the Town Council and local groups – to read through the prospectus. It’s here (you don’t even need to search for it):
The key is to demonstrate unity and benefit. Surely here is a gift horse – free money to drive forward a Town Plan that would benefit the market, local traders, licencees, the Council and budgetary concerns. If Gowsthorpe, Accrington and Liskeard can…surely Ashbourne is capable and has a greater, more timely need. But the clock is ticking.