BBC ‘Queen of Shops’ retial guru Mary Portas to transform Nelson?

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Nelson town centre could become one of 12 towns transformed under recommendations from retail expert Mary Portas.

Last year, the retail adviser, who made her name in the BBC show “Mary Queen of Shops”, was asked by the Prime Minister to lead an independent review into the future of Britain’s high streets.

She came up with The Portas Review, a 28-point list of recommendations to turn round the fortunes of Britain’s town centres.

And now Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has launched the Portas Pilots competition, in which 12 towns, or cities, can bid for a share of £1m., to become Portas Pilot towns.

And there have been calls for a bid to be made on Nelson’s behalf.

Former Pendle Council leader and community campaigner Azhar Ali said: “Nelson has suffered over the years, despite millions being ploughed in to rescuing the plethora of empty shops and businesses, including the Pendle Rise Centre, which is currently in receivership.

“That’s why I’m calling on Pendle Council, including all its local partners and organisations like Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, to come together to submit a strong bid.

“I realise that £1m. isn’t a lot of money between 12 towns, but the national focus and specialist support and advice could help make an impact, over time.

“If successful, this will not be a panacea, but could bring a range of measures that could help bring a new offering to a town centre struggling to compete, as well as support existing businesses.”

County Coun. George Adam said: “I am going to lobby Lancashire County Council to throw its weight behind such a bid for Pendle.

“After all, we have been hammered recently, with jobs being taken out of Nelson and Colne, as well as numerous county buildings being left closed, and these are rapidly becoming eyesores.

“The least that the county council should do is to push hard to deliver for Nelson and Pendle.”

Chairman of Pendle Council’s Nelson Committee Coun. Nadeem Younis said: “We need to seize this opportunity with both hands, and compile a strong bid to ensure Pendle and Nelson can benefit from this offer from the Government.

“I have asked the chief executive to call an urgent meeting of the council’s directors and senior councillors, to ensure we submit a comprehensive and compelling case for our town centres to have a share of this regeneration money.”