‘We’re not run down enough’

SPALDING won’t be putting any extra effort into its bid to win £100,000 regeneration cash as a Portas Pilot town, after traders from first round winners Margate clashed with TV retail guru Mary Portas.

The Margate traders objected when told they’d have to take part in a ‘warts and all’ reality TV show as part of the deal.

At a public meeting in the town Ms Portas was videoed saying: “Either let the cameras in with me, or I go back on the train and some other town gets it... So, lets go for it shall we?”

The Spalding bid, by South Holland District Council supported by Spalding Chamber of Trade, wasn’t one of the 12 that succeeded first time round as announced three weeks ago, but is being put forward to the second round.

At a meeting this week traders’ and council representatives agreed it wasn’t worth devoting any more time to improving the bid which had been compiled to a tight deadline earlier this year.

Bid architect Nigel Burch, South Holland’s senior economic development officer, said: “The council and the Chamber of Trade agree neither of us has the resources to add anything to the bid though certainly our video could be improved.

“We need to encourage people back into the empty shops in the town centre and we are working closely together on initiatives to help with this, actively pursuing funding apart from the Portas Pilot cash.

“There was certainly no mention of taking part in a TV reality show when we entered our bid. That’s a surprise.”

Chamber of Trade president Jason Rooke said he was amazed to hear that Portas Pilot towns would have to agree to be featured on TV.

He said: “I don’t know how the town centre members would feel if we were told we had to sign TV contracts to benefit from the scheme.

“But truthfully the towns that won are very run down with far more empty shops than Spalding.

“Spalding isn’t a dump and I think not having rows of boarded-up shops would go against us in the contest.”