Hatfield prepares for second Mary Portas Pilot bid

HATFIELD residents are being urged not to give up on the bid to become a Mary Portas Pilot town and a �100,000 prize.

The town discovered on Saturday it had lost out in the first round of bidding for the �1.2m scheme devised by the TV retail guru to revitalise UK town centres.

But the disappointment was followed by news that a second round of pilots was being brought forward, with an announcement expected before the end of July.

And this time, there will be 15 winners instead of the initial 12.

The closing date for submissions is June 30.

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Hatfield will be automatically re-entered into the competition – but the time inbetween gives Hatfield’s Town Team a chance to revise the original application, and make improvements that will hopefully see us win.

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who is leading the Government’s response to the Portas Pilot schemes, said: “Obviously it’s very disappointing, but it’s not the end of the road.

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“I’ll be making an announcement before the end of July regarding a second round of Portas Pilots.

“This time there will be 15 towns chosen.

“All towns that didn’t win this time will be automatically entered into the next round, including Hatfield, and there’s the opportunity to brush up the bid a little.

“We need to find out which areas we need to improve and identify the weak points.”

Welwyn Hatfield Labour leader Kieran Thorpe added: “I would say don’t get too disheartened by it.

“We’re used to disappointment in Hatfield - particularly regarding the town centre. We’re still going to try our best to win the second round and even if we don’t, it’s not the be all and end all.

“The money isn’t crucial to the town centre. But if we can get some money great. Either way, we’ll still carry on fighting to make Hatfield a better place.”

And Councillor Lynne Sparks, Hatfield’s dedicated Town Team leader, said: “It’s a real shame [to lose the first round].

“We’ve worked so hard, everyone got behind us, and we’ve done our absolute best – but we’ll have another stab at it.”

And we need readers to get behind the team once more.

When the WHT launched our Back The Bid campaign for Hatfield at the start of the Portas Pilot scheme, we wanted to demonstrate the town’s unity and social cohesion.

We asked you to support Hatfield’s bid as it offered an opportunity for real change in the town.

Despite this week’s setback, the opportunity has not been lost.

Now, more than ever, we need readers to Back The Bid.

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