North Somerset to benefit from Mary Portas cash boost

HIGH Streets in North Somerset are set for a much-needed cash boost following a Government-supported report by a television shopping expert.

Following Mary Portas’ high street review, North Somerset Council will benefit from a �100,000 grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The authority says the money will be used to improve the ‘vibrancy and look’ of the district’s main shopping areas.

Last year shopping guru Ms Portas compiled a Government-supported report which recommended a variety of options to boost the nation’s ailing high streets.

Among her recommendations were introducing new town management teams, affordable town centre car parking, disincentives for landlords who left shops empty, and adopting a ‘town centre first’ approaching to planning.

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Today (Fri) the Government has responded by launching a new package of help for town centres, such as a �1million fund for the most creative and effective schemes to revitalise high streets and introducing national markets day.

North Somerset is one of five authorities in the South West to benefit from the �100,000 grants from the High Street Innovation Fund.

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It is currently unclear how the money will be used in high streets across the district.

A spokesman for North Somerset Council said; “We welcome the announcement today that we have been given a grant of �100,000 as part of the Government’s support of the Portas review.

“We will be looking at exactly how we can use this money to improve the vibrancy and look of the area’s high streets.”

Mike Bell, a Liberal Democrat councillor on the authority, said: “This cash is really important in helping North Somerset to tackle the very real challenges faced by our high streets - namely vacant premises, the poor retailer mix, absentee landlords who are disinterested in the community and unaffordable business rates, especially for new businesses.

“I hope that North Somerset Council, the Town Centre Partnership and the Business Improvement District team can work together with landlords, businesses and the community to use this money as a real catalyst for change in our high street and retail economy.”

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