The acting chair of Morecambe Town Team has delivered an impassioned defence of their plans to spend £100,000 of ‘Mary Portas’ money.
Christine Stebbing was called before Morecambe Town Council to justify a 21-point list of ideas to improve the town’s central shopping area, particularly Victoria Street.
This after came Lancaster City Council knocked the proposals put forward by the Town Team – a volunteer group of businesspeople tasked with spending a Government grant awarded to Morecambe as one of only 27 ‘Portas Pilot Towns’ nationwide.
Mrs Stebbing gave a step-by-step defence of the plan, receiving a round of applause from the public gallery at Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting. She said she was “disappointed and dismayed” by the council’s comments.
She said: “An inordinate amount of work is going on behind-the-scenes.
“When we met Mary Portas she told us to think outside the box, try something different and we shouldn’t be shackled by red tape.”
Andrew Dobson from Lancaster City Council, accountable body for the £100,000, said he was “encouraged” by Mrs Stebbing’s remarks and said the council was just being “a critical friend”.
But David Kerr, chair of Morecambe Town Council who set up the Town Team, put forward a motion suggesting the town council and city council take over management of the Portas cash, in partnership with the business community. Several councillors including John Bates and Darren Clifford spoke out against this approach and in the end the town council agreed the businesses of Morecambe should remain in charge of the project, supported by both councils.
Lancaster City Council had expressed fears the plan would not be deliverable and would duplicate work they were already doing.
Ideas put forward by the Town Team include a new ‘Town Shop’ on Victoria Street selling ‘made in Morecambe goods’ and offering business advice, Christmas street markets, a temporary ice rink on the Winter Gardens car park and new decorative plants on Victoria Street.