Portas cash may help revive town

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A TOWN has applied for a share of £1m to help revive its town centre.

Desborough Town Centre Partnership has put in a bid to the Portas Pilot scheme and, if successful, the group will be given up to £100,000 to spend on its centre.

Retail guru Mary Portas will choose 12 towns to test out her ideas as set out in her Government-backed plan to revive struggling towns.

Desborough hopes to take advantage of the predicted increase in footfall in the area after a Tesco supermarket was given planning permission in January.

David Larmour, chairman of the town centre partnership, said: “In due course we will have a Tesco store in town and this will generate significant extra footfall in the town.

“But we face a risk that those new shoppers will not leave the Tesco car park. Our mission is to tempt people to explore a unique location and to enjoy themselves while they are doing it.

“Hopefully we’ll get a share of the money, because the town needs it.”

The town will face stiff competition for the funds, with Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby, Rushden and Northampton all applying for a share.

The group will look to spend the money in helping traders with marketing their shops to entice shoppers, and could introduce a loyalty card scheme.

The cash would also help to get the ball rolling on alternative layouts for Station Road, with money spent on finding out the feasibility of different designs.

The partnership organises a gala night in the lead-up to Christmas, with the town decked with festive stalls, fairground rides and late night-shopping, but believes more events are needed.

Mr Larmour added: “We agreed with the Portas report when it said that towns needed cultural event space as well as retail space.

“We would hope to put on more cultural events to give a buzz back to the town.

“We found last year that the gala was cramped in some areas, so we’re looking at new areas we can put on these kind of events.

“The ideas are all there, it’s just a case of getting the funding for them.”

A decision on Portas funding is expected in May.