Bring town centre back to life again

Mary Portas
Mary Portas

AN INNOVATIVE new plan has been launched in the hope of bringing TV retail guru Mary Portas to Gainsborough to improve the town’s flagging town centre trade.

Last year, the Government asked Portas to conduct an independent review into the state of the UK’s high streets and town centres.

The Gainsborough Town Centre Partnership are asking for businesses and community groups to get involved to apply for Gainsborough to become on the Portas 'Town Team' Pilots. Photos of members of the partnership in the Town Centre

The Gainsborough Town Centre Partnership are asking for businesses and community groups to get involved to apply for Gainsborough to become on the Portas 'Town Team' Pilots. Photos of members of the partnership in the Town Centre

Now, to implement her findings, they’re looking for 12 run-down high streets in England to share £1 million to make huge improvements with help from a dedicated team and Mary Portas herself.

To be worthy of the £100,000 grant, town’s must prove that they have innovative ideas and are willing to come together to form ‘town-teams’, involving retailers, landlords, local councils and community groups to come up with long-term and imaginative solutions to boost local business.

Now, David Hawkins from the Gainsborough Town Centre Partnership is asking for ideas and support from local businesses and residents so the town can be in with a chance of becoming one of Mary Portas’ town-teams.

“If successful, Gainsborough would be a pilot for how to rejuvenate high streets across the country,” he said. “This needs to be done with a collective bottom-up approach, and we need innovative and imaginative ideas for long-term growth and how to bring the town centre back to life.”

He continued: “We need fresh ideas, input and willingness from everyone if we’re going to prove Gainsborough’s potential for this grant funding. If successful, we’ll receive £100,00 and guidance from Mary Portas and her team in delivering a creative programme that would bring the town back together and improve footfall.”

Manager of Streat Cafe Ian Mills said he hoped the bid would work to improve footfall to the outer reaches of the town centre.

“I’ve been stressing that Trinity Street and Church Street are both major gateways to the town with some great community ships and business,” he said.

“I don’t like people to see Gainsborough as just the Market Place - there’s so much other trade on offer in the outer areas, and if we are going to improve business and draw people into the town centre then we need to get these areas sorted and looking better.”

He continued: “I’m all for this funding if we can improve the approaches. This can only be good for Gainsborough as a whole.”

Dawn Barron from Barron Bou on Lord Street added: “If it’s going to benefit Gainsborough’s independent retailers then it’s definitely worth doing. There needs to be more attention to improving the town’s own home-grown local businesses - that’s always my main concern.”

Speaking of the scheme, Mary Portas said: The more people I have seen and spoken to, the more I realise that there is a massive appetite out there among people and organisations to get their hands dirty and fight for their high streets.”

The closing date for applications to become one of Mary Portas’ town-teams is 31st March. To get involved or to share your ideas you can contact David Hawkins by calling 07795522246 or by emailing david.hawkins@gainsboroughtowncouncil.co.uk