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Oswestry Bid to Become a Portas Town ‘Pilot’

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February 24, 2012 by oswestrychamberoftrade

Dear member

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. More information can be found at http://www.maryportas.com/news/2012/02/04/bid-to-become-a-portas-pilot

The Portas Report is not about shopping or retailing. The vision is that “the High Streets of the future should be multi-functional and social places bustling with people, services and jobs which offer a clear and compelling purpose and experience that’s not available elsewhere, and which meets the interests and needs of the local people. They are recognised as important hubs of social interaction and cohesion, as well as providers of employment and local commerce”.

I trust this is a vision that many would support. Entering 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 and Footfall wish to take the lead, working with others in the town, to prepare an application, and which needs to be submitted by 30 March. Both organisations are extensively networked around the town and can hopefully reach out to a lot of people in a short period of time.

The application documents give a sense of what is required:

Successful bidders will need to demonstrate how they have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities.Areas will need to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades.

We are asking local leaders to come up with innovative ideas of their own to boost struggling high streets and town centres. I want to see local leaders ready to try new things, experiment and innovate so that their high streets and parades become the place to be for local people and visitors alike. We expect dedicated Town Teams – providing a vision and strategic management for their local high streets – to be at the heart of pilot bids.

At this early stage, our thinking is to develop an application which builds on the heritage, culture and history of Oswestry as a market town, harnessing the energy, innovation and creativity of the people who live and work in the town. We wish to seek to protect and enhance what we already have and build on strong foundations.

There are already a wide spectrum of groups and activities already operating in and around Oswestry and we wish to use the bid process as a catalyst to generate interest and energy as a prelude to a longer (and wider) debate to create a town team, based on open relationships and trust, with the council involved and acting as facilitators of change.

Time to assemble the bid is very short, so we ask you to:

  • Let us have any views or comments as soon as possible via the website
  • Join us at the next meeting of the Chamber (6pm at the Qube on 7 March) and put forward your views and ideas

Oswestry Town Council have already agreed to support the bid, and act as the ‘accountable body’ (for the receipt of funds) should we fortunate enough to succeed!

We recognise that there is a lot to do in a short space of time, therefore consultation and discussion will necessarily be limited. The Chamber will take the lead on developing the bid and submitting the application.

We may not win, but the opportunity created by the announcement can catalyse discussion and begin to develop longer and more lasting relationships with those with an interest (both commercial and social) in the town.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely

Martin Anderson, Oswestry Chamber of Commerce


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