Half of the second wave of Portas Pilots have not spent a penny of the £1.5m funding awarded by the Government, Freedom of Information requests have shown.
The Portas Pilots are town teams that have been awarded Government funding to pilot recommendations made by self-styled retail guru Mary Portas to revive the ailing high street.
Within the second group of Portas Pilots made up of 15 towns, just one local authority – Lewisham – has spent the whole of the funding allocated to it and six towns are yet to spend any of the £100,000 handed to them in July.
This includes the Roman Road pilot, which has not spent any funding despite it starring in the first installment of TV show Mary Queen of the High Street due to air on Channel Four on Tuesday. The show will be presented by Mary Portas.
Brighton has not spent any of the £83,485 allocated to it while Morecambe has spent just £6,000 of its £100,000 grant.
Overall, the second wave of towns have spent just 13% of the £1,445,985 awarded to them by Government by March 31.
The figure emerges after it was revealed in February that the first group of Portas Pilots spent just 12% of the funding.
Independent retailer Paul Turner-Mitchell, who compiled the information from the first and second waves of Portas Pilots, said: “The rate of major chain closures is increasing dramatically and we are seeing high streets turn into ghost towns.
“We want to see councils mounting an urgent fight back but it looks like all they’re doing is twiddling their thumbs and scratching their heads. The problem is that local government thinking is so risk averse and bureaucratic nothing gets done – and this just makes the problem worse.”
Lewisham spent its funding on pop-up shops, a retro market, a community hub and a town team consultant.
But eight town teams did spend some money. Lambeth spent £14,200 to design market stalls, while Rotherham spent £3,981 on getting local businesses “mystery shopped” and £1,100 on media workshops.