Portas bids fail for a second time

THETFORD and Brandon’s bids for a share of £1.5 million to revitalise their high streets have failed – for a second time.

Fifteen towns and cities across the country were picked ahead of the two towns and will split the Portas Pilot fund.

The announcement, made on Tuesday, was the second time the two bids have been rejected.

Hopes had been high after no bids from East Anglia were selected in the first round.

But only one bid from the region, Lowestoft’s, did enough to impress the judges.

David Brooks, part of the SoRT-IT team behind Thetford’s bid, said there were still a lot of positives from the bid process.

“We have had a fantastic response to pulling the town team together and a lot of ideas of how to improve the high street have come about as a result,” he said.

Several of the round’s winners were from far larger towns and cities, including Brighton and Liverpool and three bids from London.

Mr Brooks said he would like to see more emphasis put on smaller market towns.

“These towns might be smaller but they are part of the British way of life and we have got to find ways of reviving the high street,” he said.

The 392 bids not chosen will now have the chance to sign up as a Town Team Partner, a scheme backed by £5.5 million of Government money.

David Bowman, Forest Heath District Council’s portfolio holder for economic development and tourism, said Brandon would make use of that opportunity.

“We have got to find ways and means to get money for the high street.

“Town centres are more or less my number one priority – without them working well we can’t anything to the town,” he said.