Newcastle MP backs town team’s bid to become a Portas pilot

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28 Mar 2012

A partnership  set up to champion the revival of Newcastle town centre has won the support of local MP Paul Farrelly in its attempt to become a ‘Portas pilot’.

Mr Farrelly has written to Jonathan Mitchell, Chair of the Newcastle Town Centre Partnership, pledging his “wholehearted” backing to the team’s bid to be one of 12 towns which are vying to share in more than £1million funding and receive advice from retail shopping guru Mary Portas.

The Portas Review was commissioned by the Government to consider what steps are needed to halt the decline in Britain’s high streets which are facing serious challenges from out-of-town shopping developments and the internet.

The Review was published in December and made 28 recommendations about what could be done to breathe new life into struggling town centres. These included the suggested formation of ‘town teams’ to lead the rejuvenation of their high streets.

Mr Farrelly said he was delighted the partnership had been put in place to guide the bid and said the emphasis on “securing Newcastle’s future prosperity through the efforts of local people was entirely correct.”

“Town centres work best when the Council, elected representatives and local businesses form a true partnership which is committed to building on historic strengths, investing in innovation and encouraging a sense of place through good urban design,” Mr Farrelly said.

“Newcastle faces challenges in regenerating key sites around the town centre in a way that knits together coherently. That means, too, that it also has a great opportunity to flourish as a 21st century market town with a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere,” he added.