Berwick wins £100,00 Portas prize

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local artists and builders will be used to give Berwick town centre a facelift thanks to a £100,000 government grant and advice from retail guru Mary Portas.

Berwick was unveiled this week as being one of 15 Portas pilot towns across the country to take part in a government initiative to regenerate troubled high streets. Mary Portas was appointed by the Prime Minister to lead an independent review into the future of the country’s high streets and come up with ideas of how to revitalise them.

The town team’s ‘Beautiful Berwick’ vision is to use local builders, communication companies and artists to improve shop fronts, signage, seating and advertising space.

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.

“We want to see the £100,000 spent visibly – not spent on consultancy fees,” said town team leader Ed Swales. “It’s absolutely fantastic news. The sun is shining on Berwick.”

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.

“Our second application was a massive improvement on the first and the key to it was bringing in Berwick Town Council as the lead organisation,” explained Mr Swales.

Berwick will be given a dedicated contact point in government to provide advice and support to encourage greater local business growth, with free support led by Boots and Mary Portas’s team.