Monday, April 2, 2012

News: Rotherham denied High Street cash


In a move that belies many people's perceptions of Rotherham town centre, the government has not made a £100,000 grant to the borough from a new multi-million pound High Street Innovation Fund.

The fund is in response to Mary Portas' government-commissioned review into the nation's High Street and is to be used to support new business start-ups whilst bringing empty High Street properties back into use.

£10m has been distributed to 100 councils including Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster.

It is understood that the funding was allocated using business rate returns and how much business rate relief has been given to empty commercial units across all areas, without a focus on empty shops on the High Street.

Rotherham will instead submit a bid to become a "Portas Pilot" town and hope to secure a share of £1m to test the "Town Team" approach and pilot some of the other ideas and recommendations set out in the Mary Portas Review.

A second round was also launched last week to trial some of Mary's recommendations and come up with new ideas to breathe life into underused high streets.

Leading retail marketing consultant, Mary Portas, was impressed by Rotherham on a visit last year as she compiled her review. She went on to reference Rotherham in the published review having seen what a bustling, lively market can do for a town centre.

Grant Shapps, Minister for Housing and Local Government, said: "Mary Portas's review made crystal clear the stark challenge our high streets face. With Internet shopping and out-of-town centres here to stay, they must offer something new if they are to entice visitors back.

"Her report has provided the catalyst for change that many towns have been craving. I now want to see people coming together to form their own town teams and turning their creative ideas into reality to ensure their high streets thrive long into the future."

Rotherham town centre website


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