Bus link is part of Portas Pilot bid

A BUS link to several major county visitor attractions could become a reality if a town wins a share of the Portas Pilot cash.

Kettering has five-way partnership bid which includes the town’s council, Wicksteed Park, Kettering Conference Centre, Boughton House and the Newlands Centre.

The bid for a share of £1m was submitted on Friday and features a proposal to connect the town centre to local attractions in a dedicated bus route and a trip-planner website.

Cllr Terry Freer, who led the bid submission on behalf of the council, said: “Our scheme aims to bring a new audience into the town centre. This new audience will come via Boughton House, Wicksteed Park, the Odeon cinema and the conference centre.

“They will help to drive-up footfall.

“The bus will be a very cheap service, and even if we don’t get the money we won’t drop this plan as we think it’s too good to miss out on.”

In May retail guru Mary Portas will choose 12 towns to test out her ideas as set out in her Government-backed report on ways to revive struggling shopping centres.

As reported in last month’s Evening Telegraph, neighbouring Wellingborough, Corby and East Northamptonshire have all staked their claim for about £80,000.

As well as joining with the area’s major local amenities, Kettering Council has revealed it could expand its loyalty card scheme if the bid is approved.

Wicksteed Park managing director John Roberts said: “We are extremely proud of being part of Kettering and are very pro-active in promoting the area.

“We will continue to work with our partners and the local authority to lift the positive profile of the area.”

But Kettering’s bid left traders unimpressed.

Sam Hutchings, owner of Honeykitten, in Market Street, said: “I think it’s something that will take people out of the town centre to these attractions, as opposed to bringing them into it.”

However, David Aguilar, the owner of Bee Inspired, in Market Street, said: “I’m not keen.

“I don’t think there’s many new ideas in the bid.”