Town centres bidding for share of £1m

NORTH Tyneside Council officials are preparing to bid for government support to spend on revamping the borough’s town centres.

The council has revealed it will be making a bid to become one of 12 towns set to share a kitty of more than £1m and be given help by retail guru Mary Portas.

If successful, the local authority would share out the money between North Shields, Wallsend and Whitley Bay.

More than 300 towns are expected to fight it out to become one of the 12, with deadline for bids being a week tomorrow.

Earlier this year, Portas, the so-called Queen of Shops, produced a review of how towns could overcome problems following the recession and lure back shoppers.

Borough mayor Linda Arkley said: “The Portas review reinforced an approach that we’ve already adopted in North Tyneside. Our retail centres task group brings together key private and public-sector partners to support our town centres and has already implemented many of the Portas review’s recommendations.

“For example, fitting shopjackets to some of our empty premises was an initiative which received international recognition.

“We’ll be submitting a funding bid to support an initiative that would benefit all three town centres.

“The pilot scheme offers the opportunity to build on the considerable work done to date.”

The emphasis on the new government scheme is expected to be on original ideas to boost town centres rather than enforcing new restrictions and expensive regeneration schemes.

Winning bidders are expected to form town teams of politicians and shopkeepers intent on turning their high streets around.