St John's misses out on Portas cash

By Tim Clarke 28/05 Updated: 29/05 13:02

DETERMINED traders will press ahead with efforts to bolster the fortunes of shops and other businesses in St John's despite missing out on being named one of the Government's flagship Portas Pilots.

The 'Village in the City' was among more than 370 areas which applied for the scheme, aimed at revitalising ailing High Streets and retail centres, and if selected would have received a grant of £100,000 as well as support from retail guru Mary Portas.

But it was not among the 12 initially chosen although there remains hope it could still benefit after the Government announced a second round to the competition.

Local Government Minister Grant Schapps said due to the overwhelming demand and the high quality of the bids another 12 towns would be chosen for support with three others specifically being selected in the Greater London Authority area taking the overall total to 15.

Those who have already bid will not have to reapply but can choose to alter or 'sharpen up' their application ahead of the deadline on June 30.

Despite missing out on the initial round of bidding St John's Traders Association, which has spearheaded the bid, is ploughing ahead with some of the projects aimed at breathing new life into St John's and attracting more shoppers.

Businesses have already clubbed together to decorate the area in bunting for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and a shop window decorating competition based on the same Royal theme has also attracted plenty of interest.

The association is also putting together a colourful brochure to promote St John's businesses with the help of funding from the city council and plans to launch a new website in the near future.

Gina Saunders, chairman of the traders' association, said: "Obviously we are disappointed to miss out on the Portas Pilot because the input and advice would have been such a big help as well as the money.

"But we now have a mini plan of action of what we want to do and in a couple of weeks time we are going to hold a full traders meeting to plan some of these projects. We have got a lot of people on board now. We are trying to make St John's an attractive place to come and a place where people want to look around and explore the shops."

Traders also hope to raise enough money to fund new signs directing visitors to key places in St John's and where to find parking.

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