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Becoming a Portas Town Pilot


February 13, 2012 by oswestrychamberoftrade

Dear All
You may be aware that Mary Portas and the Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps, have launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become “Portas Pilots”, with the winners benefiting from a share of £1million to help turn around their “un
loved and unused” high streets

Whilst Oswestry certainly doesn’t meet the definition of an “unloved and unused” high street, the competition represents a good opportunity for the town to come together to debate the various issues that we all face, and are highlighted in the Portas Report.

The Oswestry Chamber of Commerce wish to take the lead, working with others in the town, to (i) decide if Oswestry should submit an application for Oswestry to become a ‘Portas Pilot’ and (ii) assuming the answer to this question be ‘yes’, to then complete and return the application form, which needs to be submitted by 30 March.

The Chamber are holding open meetings for interested parties on 16 February (12.00 – 14.00 – Walford Davies suite) and on 23rd February (18.00 – 20.00) in the Council Chamber at the Guild Hall. Please note, no refreshments will be provided so please make your own provisions.

The objective of these meetings is to ensure that all interested parties understand the background and requirements for applying, and to begin to agree who will lead on the various tasks and activities necessary. I apologise for the short notice but you will appreciate that time is short.

Please let the Chamber of Commerce know if you wish to attend either meeting, and use the website (below) to post any questions, comments or suggestions. If you are unable to attend but wish to contribute, please leave your contact details and we shall add you to the contact list.

It is advisable to look at the ‘Portas’ websites but some of the criteria required to become a pilot are set out below:

  • Commitment: we are looking for bids to demonstrate maximum commitment to the town team approach

  • Potential for improvement: resources will be allocated on a value for money basis and therefore areas must be able to demonstrate their potential for improvement; and

  • Innovation: bidders are asked to provide an outline of what the key priorities for their pilot area will be. We are looking for the most innovative ideas and evidence of strong leadership that will have maximum impact and can be replicated elsewhere

In the application form you will also note that:

  • The Department will only consider applications from either local partnerships or a consortium with a single lead bidder. This is to ensure clear lines of accountability and communication.
  • Town Team/Partnership – Who will lead the pilot and who will be the Accountable Body? Please indicate the other partners involved in your application.
  • Strong Leadership – Please detail your vision for your high street, and describe how you have begun to secure local support and how you will build on this to make it a reality (maximum 300 words).
  • Commitment – Please attach any supporting letters (from those organisations and individuals who make up your pilot), detail of proposed match funding, and any other relevant information, including detail of the percentage of landlords and businesses signed up to the pilot (maximum 300 words).
  • Potential for improvement – We will be awarding funding on a value for money basis. It is important, therefore, that your bid can demonstrate the potential for improvement in your area. Please set out what you consider to be the key challenges facing your high street (including current vacancy rates) and why your high street has the potential to improve (maximum 300 words).
  • Innovation – Please set out how you will test the Town Team approach, what your priorities are likely to be, and whether there are particular recommendations in the Portas Review you want to test. We are particularly looking for innovative ideas (maximum 300 words).
  • Expenditure – Please set out how you much you are bidding for, (maximum £100,000), and how you propose to use it. Please explain how the pilot will be innovative and deliver additional impact. Please also provide detail of other Government funding your partnership currently receives (maximum 300 words).

At our initial meetings we need to put our minds as to how best to address these questions and challenges. We also need to produce a video which supports our bid! I am confident that Oswestry can develop a strong bid and look forward to working with you on this.

Yours Faithfully

Martin Anderson

Chair, Oswestry Chamber of Commerce


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