Town centre bidders hoping for good news

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BIDDERS for a scheme to revamp a town centre are hoping they have done enough to impress government judges.

Joanne Rogers, town centre manager for Forest Heath District Council, has put Brandon forward to be granted £100,000 as part of the Portas Pilot scheme.

The scheme has been organised by the Government following the high street review carried out by Mary Portas. There were originally 12 places available on the scheme but that has been increased to 24 due to an overwhelming response.

Ms Rogers said feedback received from a public survey had shown residents were eager for improvements.

“Brandon has a lot going for it and we are trying to look at it like a classic car that has been left behind. With a bit of polish we can get it going again,” she said.

The bid has been bolstered by support from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Brandon was one of four towns out of 17 to be backed by LEP.

If accepted, the money has been earmarked for a number of projects.

These include the introduction of hanging baskets, improved signage for tourists and the community and a look into the potential for a new town bus service.

Ms Rogers added that many of these projects would be carried out regardless of if the town’s bid was successful or not.

The survey revealed that top of residents’ wish list was an improvement to toilets and better car parking.

But respondents were pleased with the town centre’s ease of access in terms of walking distance.

Brandon will go head-to-head with Thetford for one of the 12 initial spots available nationally for the Portas Pilot. A further 12 will be decided later in the year.

The Thetford bid, led by local councillors and business owners, met with Grant Shapps MP, who is overseeing the Portas Pilot scheme.

A response to the application is expected any time from May.