Traders reveal how Portas cash would boost St John's

By Tim Clarke 03/04 Updated: 03/04 16:00

Buy photos » Gina Saunders has been delighted at the backing St John's Portas Pilot bid has received from local people. Picture by Nick Hands 1112038NHR. Order this picture at www.buyphotos247.com

REVIVING empty shops and a new programme of farmers' markets are just some of the ways traders in St John's are hoping to boost the fortunes of the Village in the City, with the help of Government cash.

We revealed last month how St John’s is bidding to become one of 12 Portas Pilots which will secure up to £100,000 from a pot of funding aimed at breathing new life into ailing High Streets and retail centres across the country.

The scheme was launched in February by Local Government Minister Grant Shapps and retail guru Mary Portas.

And now for the first time St John's Traders Association, which is spearheading the bid with the backing of the city council, has revealed some of the measures they hope will put the area back on the map as an attractive shopping destination.

They include hosting a busy programme of events including spring, Christmas and medieval-themed fairs as well as regular farmers' markets and craft fairs.

New signs will welcome visitors to the so-called Village in the City with signage in other parts of Worcester encouraging people to head to St John's.

Empty shops will also be targeted with schools and other organisations encouraged to fill the windows with attractive artwork and other displays.

One empty business unit will be turned into a base for a Town Team, with responsibility for bolstering the profile of St John's.

It would also be used to host stalls where students and local businesses can sell their work and provide a gallery for local artists. A new website would also be launched with a directory of local businesses, groups, clubs events and activities.

Trade association chairman Gina Saunders, who is a director of H Dayus Butchers, said the Portas bid had attracted huge support from residents as well as businesses with about 1,300 people signing a petition backing the project.

"I think what is encouraging for traders is the local community are completely behind us," she said.

"Their enthusiasm is just as great as ours and it is just what we needed to get us thinking about what we can do to boost the area. Times are hard but we are going to give it our best shot."

St John's will have to wait until May to find out whether the bid has been successful but Mrs Saunders said they would be pressing ahead with some of the ideas regardless of whether they secured the Portas cash.

"It has highlighted a lot of things we want to happen in St John's and so we are going to look at what we can do because we cannot just sit back and wait until May. We are going to have a meeting after Easter to see how we can move forward," she said.

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