Berwick wins £100,000 Portas Pilot prize

Some of the Portas Pilot prize money will be used to improve Berwick market
Some of the Portas Pilot prize money will be used to improve Berwick market

BERWICK will be handed £100,000 to rejuvenate the town centre after winning its bid to become a Mary Portas Pilot town.

England’s most northern town beat more than 400 communities nationwide to secure ‘Portas Pilot’ status and will receive the cash windfall in two weeks after being unveiled as one of 15 new ‘Portas Pilot’ towns from around the country.

The government initiative to regenerate troubled high streets is being spearheaded by television presenter and retail guru Mary Portas and will form part of a television series.

The bid team’s ‘Beautiful Berwick’ vision is to use local builders, communication companies and artists to improve shop fronts, signage, seating and advertising space over the course of a six-month campaign to improve the look of the high street.

They plan to invest a sizeable chunk of the money in Berwick’s Wednesday and Saturday market by attracting more local stall holders. Two members of the eight-strong town team have also promised to provide three local businesses with free advice on how to develop and enhance their online retail sales.

As part of the prize, Berwick will be given a dedicated contact point in government to provide advice and support to encourage greater local business growth. It will also receive free support from retail industry giants led by Boots, as well as Mary Portas’s team.

The 15 new Portas pilots are in addition to the 12 winners from the first round of the competition, who are already making strides to revive their high streets.

Although Berwick missed out when the first round of Portas pilots were revealed in May, the bid team saw off competition from 418 other entrants in round two.

The initiative follows an independent review into town centres by Ms Portas, commissioned by the government last year.

She said: “I am thrilled that communities up and down the country have looked beyond the money and have been mobilised to create ‘town teams’ and demand more for their high streets. I am looking forward to seeing fifteen more British towns putting their plans into action.”