Hatfield Mary Portas Pilot bid needs ‘overall vision’

16:05 01 June 2012

MP Grant Shapps

MP Grant Shapps

Archant

THERE is still work to be done if Hatfield is to succeed at becoming a Portas Pilot at the second time of asking its seems.

The 12 Portas Pilot winners - and what they bid for

Bedford - Mentoring support for businesses and community use of empty properties.

Croydon - Turning riot-stricken Old Town market into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter.

Dartford - Opening up central spaces for classes and clubs and starting a ‘school for shopkeepers’.

Bedminster, Bristol – Putting Bedminster on the map for street art and street theatre. Rickshaw service and parking review to tackle traffic environment.

Liskeard, Cornwall - Competing against edge of town supermarket with vibrant arts scene, guerrilla gardening and yarn bombing to inject fun back into the town centre.

Margate, Kent - Putting education and enjoyment at the heart of the town centre with courses, “job club” services and pop-up shops.

Market Rasen, Lincolnshire - Restoring market town look and feel, advertising free parking and mentoring new businesses.

Nelson, Lancashire - Attract students with young people’s café, sports activities, and art and vintage market.

Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland - Better branding of the town, improved local transport and pop-up shops.

Stockport - New creative arts complex, outdoor film screenings, new parking strategy and street champions.

Stockton on Tees, Teeside - Live entertainment to boost the evening leisure economy, plus specialist High Street and evening markets.

Wolverhampton - Modern day town criers and on-street performers, plus Dragons’ Den-style competition for entrepreneurs.

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who is the Government’s lead on the scheme, suggested the bid may have lacked the “overall vision” of some of the winning submissions.

The housing and local government minister – who did not have a say in which towns won the competition – nevertheless saw ministers’ decision making up close, and revealed to the WHT how Hatfield faired.

All 371 applications were given a mark out of 20, with winning bids scoring between 16 and 19 points.

Hatfield, Mr Shapps revealed, scored only 12.

“It probably didn’t have that final ‘winning will mean...’ statement that was needed,” Mr Shapps said.

A look at some of the winners suggests he is right.

While Hatfield’s bid featured a wide variety of ideas and innovations, judges seemed to favour towns with a more singular aim for their high street.

Bedford, for example, won with a plan to offer mentoring support for high street businesses, and opening empty commercial properties up for community use.

Croydon in south London based its bid on repairing its Old Town following last year’s riots, while Wolverhampton was successful with its idea of using town criers and street performers to enliven the town centre.

However, several winners also suggested revitalising their respective markets – which was also a key component of Hatfield’s submission.

This suggests Hatfield, while not quite in the running this time, is certainly on the right track.

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