Portas Pilot towns hang on to 'save the high streets' cash
Friday 03 May 2013
Nearly half of the 15 councils given a combined £1.5m of taxpayer money to revitalise their local high streets have not spent a single penny over the last 10 months.
This has raised further fears over the seemingly snail-like progress of the so-called Portas Pilots, ahead of one trial in Tower Hamlets in London being featured in the retail expert Mary Portas's programme on Channel 4 next week.
A total of 27 towns were each awarded about £100,000 last year following Ms Portas's review of the high street. The second tranche of 15 pilots had spent just 13 per cent of the £1,445,985 handed to them by 31 March, according to Freedom of Information requests, which follows a similar pattern in the first 12 towns.
Six of the 15 pilots, including those in Liverpool, Tiverton in Devon, Tower Hamlets in London, Ashford in Kent and Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, have not spent any of their £100,000 grant received in July. The same applies to Brighton's £83,485 grant, while Morecambe in Lancashire has spent only £6,000 out of its £100,000.
Most of these councils said they had made progress, while Tower Hamlets pointed out that it only had its grant signed off in February.
The retail commentator Paul Turner-Mitchell said: "The rate of chain closures is increasing and we are seeing high streets turn into ghost towns. We want councils to mount an urgent fightback, but it looks like all they're doing is twiddling their thumbs."
Ahead of Channel 4's Mary Queen of the High Street on Tuesday, Ms Portas praised town teams for being "cautious" in formulating plans, and said: "The Portas Pilots are giving an opportunity to people to make change in their area and that is something that has not happened before."
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
iJobs Money & Business
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...
Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...