Published: May 30, 2012
Burnham-On-Sea announces second bid to become Portas Pilot town

Burnham-On-Sea is to make a second bid to become a Portas Pilot town and win a share of regeneration funding, despite learning at the weekend that its first attempt had failed.

As we reported here, Government Minister Grant Shapps - who is the Government’s lead on Mary Portas' plans to revive the country’s high streets - announced last Saturday that Burnham was not among the 12 towns across the UK selected in round one.

However, at a meeting of Burnham's Town Team on Tuesday (May 29th), members decided to go ahead with a second bid, to be submitted by the end of June. Fifteen additional pilot towns are to be selected by the government in July.

Burnham's Mayor, Ken Smout, who is also a member of the Town Team, said: "We need to quickly put the first bid behind us and move forward with a second attempt, bringing the whole community together."

The team's Bev Milner Simonds told "We have decided to tweak and improve our first bid and make a second attempt, taking advice from those towns which were successful in the first round. This is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in Burnham. Many good ideas to improve the town have been put forward which we are acting upon."

Sub groups have been formed to look at subjects ranging from creating new apprenticeships and boosting tourism to introducing 'Sandy Sundays' to encourage more visitors to Burnham. Other proposals include a new 'meet and greet' scheme for visitors, a sea wall and shop shutter art scheme and encouraging the sale of more 'Made in Burnham' products.

The team's Alex Turco added: "Lots of activity is underway within the team, with members forming many sub-groups to take forward a number of town centre improvements. There are plenty of ways we can work together to make Burnham Town Centre a better place to visit, shop and do business and we welcome the help and expertise of more volunteers."

Burnham's first application for £99,000 was submitted with a video and over 200 pledges of support from local groups and people.

The 12 towns chosen - Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Bedminster in Bristol, Liskeard, Margate, Market Rasen, Nelson in Lancashire, Newbiggin by the Sea, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton - were among 370 applicants across the UK, with each getting a share of a £1.2m pot to improve their shopping areas.

Grant Shapps said: "The best local high streets offer more than simply shopping – they are the beating heart of their neighbourhoods: places to meet, work, relax and come together as a community. It’s why this competition to become a Portas Pilot has captured the imagination of the nation, with communities across the country uniting to support their high streets."

Mary Portas said in a statement at the weekend: "I've been deeply touched by both the quality and creativity of the bids and the momentum Britain’s first town teams have generated in just a few short weeks. It is now clearer to me than ever that Britain wants its town centres revitalised and the energy and accountability for that needs to rest with the people who live and do business there."

Pictured: Top, Burnham Town Team's Bev Milner Simonds and Ben Metcalfe in the town centre and, centre, Mary Portas


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