TRADERS and community leaders in Stalybridge have been told they will not be one of the first towns to pilot the ideas in the Portas Review.
For the past six months members of the newly formed Stalybridge Town Team have been developing a series of ideas designed to breathe new life into the town centre.
They have drawn up proposals to create more public spaces and to expand existing markets, as well as looking at ways traders and landlords could encourage and support young entrepreneurs.
And they are plans to build on community involvement too, by building on the town’s rich musical heritage and providing practical opportunities for residents to run and participate in activities.
On Saturday morning the Team learned they were not one of the first 12 ‘Portas Pilot’ towns to win a share of the £1.2million of government funding and the support of High Street retail expert Mary Portas.
But the bid will be considered a second time, after the Government announced it was to select a further 15 pilot towns (including three in Greater London).
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds says the initial decision is “disappointing”, but that the newly formed Town Team is already making a real difference to the future of the town.
In the months since the Town Team was formed steps have already been taken to brighten up the high street with hanging baskets, to keep the canal clear of trolleys to attract boaters and to expand events such as the farmers’ market.
Commenting on the decision Mr Reynolds said: “Stalybridge has all the makings of a really vibrant market town – but in recent years it has struggled to fulfil its potential.
“The newly formed Stalybridge Town Team has already identified many of the challenges the town faces and come up with a number of innovative projects that will make a real difference.
“So while I am disappointed that Stalybridge isn’t one of the 12 successful bids, the momentum for change created by the Town Team is a success in itself.
“Without the funding available to the pilot towns, the Town Team won’t be able to implement all of their ideas immediately and I whole-heartedly hope that it is selected next time.
“But the Town Team is already showing what can be achieved by working together. And I believe that their continuing hard work and dedication will ultimately transform Stalybridge.”
The 12 towns that were successful were: Bedford, Bedfordshire; Croyden, Greater London; Dartford, Kent; Bedminster, Bristol; Liskeard, Cornwall; Margate, Kent; Market Rasen, Lincolnshire; Nelson, Lancashire; Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland; Stockport, Greater Manchester; Stockton on Tees, Teeside; Wolverhampton, West Midlands.
Across the country there were 370 applications. The deadline for the next wave of applications is Saturday 30 June. Published 29 May, 2012