Will Spalding follow in Portas Pilot footsteps?

Market Rasen BIG directors Sara Scott, Richard Hallsworth and Sarah Lamballe with shopkeeper Maria Pemberton.
Market Rasen BIG directors Sara Scott, Richard Hallsworth and Sarah Lamballe with shopkeeper Maria Pemberton.
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South Holland business leaders may follow in the footsteps of a tiny Lincolnshire market town to regenerate Spalding town centre.

Richard Hallsworth, finance director of Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (Portas Pilot), told Spalding business bosses how their small team won more than £200,000 over two years to regenerate their town centre.

Shops and business premises were spruced up, monthly themed markets were launched with entertainment for families and volunteers were called in to take part in a “big town tidy up”.

Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce heard about a host of projects devised to make Market Rasen a local, regional and tourist destination and turn the town into what Mr Hallsworth called “a multi-functional social space”.

The Chamber is already looking for Springfields Section 106 money from the district council so a town centre manager can steer Spalding to bigger things and Mr Hallsworth said if Market Rasen could have only done one thing it would be appoint a town centre manager.

Mr Hallsworth told the Free Press: “If I had to give pointers to other towns based on our journey I would say include everybody who has an interest in the regeneration of the high street or particular project and build a plan around their ideas.

“I would also say build a strong ‘town team’ with people from different skill sets and experience who will roll their sleeves up and get involved.

“Instead of trying to create a good weekly market, build a great monthly market that involves local crafters, food producers and community groups. Theme the market and ensure it is lively with entertainment and have something for kids to do.”

The Chamber heard Market Rasen’s monthly markets are sustainable and attract 60 stallholders with a waiting list.

But Mr Hallsworth said other projects will not be sustainable when the Portas Pilot cash runs out.

Mr Hallsworth said Market Rasen is ready to share its recipe for success with Spalding.

Newly re-elected Chamber president Phil Scarlett said local business leaders will learn from Market Rasen, Boston BID and other town centre regeneration groups as they try to take Spalding forward.

He said: “This is not something you should do in isolation.”

Mr Scarlett said traders are keen to “create life and energy within the town centre”.