Hopes still high for Portas bid

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THE team behind Morecambe’s failed bid to be a Portas pilot town are still optimistic they can secure a £100,000 cash boost to rejuvenate the town centre.

The resort was one of 371 across the country who bid as part of retail guru Mary Portas’ review of high streets in the UK.

However, it was announced on Saturday the resort had missed out on being one of 12 towns selected to benefit from the £1.2 million cash pot and expert advice.

A “town team”, which included town councillors and Arndale Centre manager John Watkins, put together the prominent MoreCanBeDone campaign that has adorned the resort shopping centre for the past couple of months as part of the bid.

A second batch of a further dozen successful applications will be announced at the end of July and the Morecambe team believe they have a good chance of being selected.

Morecambe Town Council vice-chairman Darren Clifford said: “I’m very disappointed, mainly for the team of people that put all the effort in but 12 out of 371 was always going to be a big ask.

“They have said the application was good and is one that will go into another tranche that closes in June and will be announced in July.

“I’ve spoken to the (Local Government) Department and they were quite impressed with the bid and the amount of support it had locally.

“We’ve missed out very, very narrowly by the sounds of it.

“The worst case scenario from this is that we got a lot people talking to each other.”

The team had outlined plans to make empty shops affordable for young entrepreneurs and have festivals and events aimed at increasing footfall in the town in an application backed by the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce.

The winning bids are Bedford, Bedfordshire, Croydon, Greater London, Dartford, Kent, Bedminster, Bristol Liskeard, Cornwall, Margate, Kent, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, Nelson, Lancashire, Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland, Stockport, Greater Manchester, Stockton on Tees, Teesside and Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

Portas, star of TV shows including Mary Queen of Shops, will meet all the winning bidders and offer advice.