The Portas Pilot towns spawned by Mary Portas’ report to Government have been criticised for not spending funds allocated to them. Retail Week looks at some of the initiatives that have been enacted.
While many of the 27 Portas Pilots have come under fire for inaction in attempts to improve the state of their high streets, some have introduced interesting and quirky initiatives.
Altrincham – The market town in Greater Manchester has introduced a 10p per hour car parking charge.
Barking – The East London borough has launched a bath house in the town square owned by Training for Life who run the Barking Apprentice.
Bedford – High Street Champion Greg Warwick has given training for town businesses courtesy of Bedford Portas Pilot providing training for online sales, social media and business planning. The town team has also been active in promoting local events and culture on social media.
Bedminster – The town team has created pop-up shops, introduced street theatre, a Christmas market and a number of projects to improve the environment.
Braintree – The Essex town has slashed afternoon parking prices to 10p after 3pm to tempt shoppers back to its centre.
Croydon – Bolstered the management of its Surrey Street Market, created a community kitchen hub area and is offering historic walks within the old town area.
Dartford – Two former Clinton Cards employees have launched a greetings card shop called Chapstone with their redundancy cheques. The owners want to open a second store but cannot afford the business rates, The Sun reported. The town team has also launched a new Sunday market and put on summer concerts in the Kent town.
Harrow – The council has cut business rates to a third of the national average.
Lewisham - Spent all its money on pop-up shops, a retro market, a community hub and a town team consultant.
Market Rasen – The town hosted a diverse exhibition of artwork from Lincolnshire creative which was displayed in unusual places and spaces throughout the town – including up and down the high street.
Wolverhampton – The Portas Pilot Sights & Sounds project group has led a social media campaign which included a new #wolverhamptonhour. The hour-long Twitter meetings have allowed an estimated audience of 120,000 people to draw attention to events happening in the Midlands town. University students will also act as Roving Reporters, recording these events and broadcasting them across a variety of social media sites. The city has also introduced new, contemporary town criers.