Mary Portas believes Government reviews should come with a “health warning” after she received “a bashing” for her work to try and save UK high streets.
The retail expert said she felt the criticism she had received following her work on the high street has been “unfair” in a meeting with the select committee for the Department for Communities and Local Government.
She said: “Sitting here now I’m thinking ‘what have I done wrong?’. I went out and did something for my country. I wish I had someone there holding my hand to help me navigate politics because it is tough.”
But she added that she didn’t regret her decision to do the report after she was inspired to help following the London riots in 2011.
Portas, who has presented TV shows such as Mary Portas: Queen of the High Street, also appeared to distance herself from the Portas Review. She said: “I’m not the saviour of the high street, I cannot do this on my own. I’m the high street champion. I’m a-political.
“Sometimes I wish I hadn’t put my name to it because I think it should come with a health warning.”
She stated that the Portas Review was not her “flagship” but a Government initiative.
Portas also admitted that local authorities should have received more guidance and a framework on how and where to spend funding, which has led to a delay in the money being spent across the Portas Pilots.
In addition, she said that she believed the Future High Streets Forum, which is co-chaired by Mark Prisk, should have been created at the beginning of the process rather than two years after the process started.
She added that she did not feel the problem with the UK’s high streets were a top priority for the Government.
But Mary Portas was unable to give details as to her monthly commitment to the review.
When asked how many hours she spent on it per month, she said: “I don’t have a hands-on involvement.”
Portas was also unable to pick out where she had seen the greatest progress across the Portas Pilots, nor could she say whether the mentoring programme had been used sufficiently.
But she said she would continue to “fight” to save the high street, highlighting onerous business rates as a key restriction to growth.
She said that if the Government does not tackle business rates, “we will not see the development of new and exciting ideas. We will be supressing the new green shoots”.