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Traders right behind our Portas shops campaign

Town centre traders are rallying together to get fully behind Accrington’s campaign for Portas Pilot status.

Mary Portas
Town centre traders are rallying together to get fully behind Accrington’s campaign for Portas Pilot status.

Town hall bosses have written to 150 town centre traders urging them to put their support for the bid in writing.

So far around 30 town centre businesses and organisations have responded.

And council chiefs have approved the formation of a hub for independent businesses in the town centre, which will form a major element of the bid.

The Observer is campaigning for Accrington to be named one of 12 ‘Portas’ towns or cities, which will share a £1 million cash bonanza to help breathe new life into the high street and get help and guidance from retail guru Mary Portas.

The bid, being led by the Town Centre Regeneration Board, has already received the backing of the Market Traders committee, Arndale Centre landlords and the Chamber of Trade.

Deputy leader Coun Clare Pritchard is delighted with the response so far. She added: “The letters haven’t been out very long and we have already had 30 letters of support from traders, which we are really encouraged about. We want the businesses of Hyndburn to back us, like the Observer has. We are doing this for the good of our town.” The Portas funding will be offered to those bids that devise the most innovative blueprints to regenerate their retail centres, based on a report put together by ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas.

On Wednesday, the council’s Cabinet agreed to set up a town centre ‘hub’ where people and organisations can find out exactly what is available in the town and receive business advice and support on issues such as planning, rents and rates.

The hub will be run in conjunction with Accrington and Rossendale College and Hyndburn Enterprise Trust, and will be based at the existing College Shop on Broadway.

Coun Pritchard added: “What we want to do with the hub is make it a one-stop shop. If somebody wants to come to us with say £10,000 to invest instead of going to an estate agent who will say sorry, we would have everything in one place to say maybe a market stall would be better for you. It's about directing people to the best place.”

The college will take a space in the Town Hall reception which will replace the service previously at the college shop. A spokesman for the college said: “The college has offered its support in the Portas pilot bid and wish the organisers every success.”

Councils and other interested groups have been invited to bid for up to £100,000 by March 31.

A government decision on the 12 Portas pilot winners is expected later this year.
 

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