Town misses out on being a Portas pilot

Mary Portas
Mary Portas

HARTLEPOOL is among hundreds of towns to miss out on becoming a government-backed pilot scheme aimed at breathing new life into high streets.

But the town has been invited to become a “Town Team Partner”, which could help access funding packages later this year.

In total 15 town centres have been given extra cash for regeneration projects following a review by retail queen Mary Portas.

They are known as “Portas Pilots” and will trial some of Portas’s recommendations and come up with new ideas.

Hartlepool Borough Council had already received £100,000 as part of a multi-million pound High Street Innovation Fund in a bid to bring empty properties back into use.

But missed out on becoming a “Portas pilot”, which will see the 15 areas given a share of £1.5m to help improve their town centres.

Some 370 applications were made following a report by Portas into the state of the country’s high streets.

Those not selected will be able to bid for a share of a £5.5m pot for individual projects.

The new pilot areas are: Ashford, Berwick, Braintree, Brighton, Hatfield, Royal Leamington Spa, Liverpool, the Waterloo area of central London, Forest Hill in south London, Tower Hamlets, Loughborough, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Rotherham and Tiverton.

Writing in his Mail column today, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, no towns in our area received any money from the Government, despite the fact that shopping centres in towns like Stockton, Darlington and Middlesbrough are suffering in the same way that we are as a result of increasing economic problems, falling economic demand and changes in the way in which we shop in the 21st century.

“The nearest town to receive money was Berwick-upon-Tweed, which I wouldn’t have thought had the same economic problems and shop voids as Hartlepool and other similar towns.”