Regions get Town Team advisers

Lisa Durkin, a business and marketing consultant in Burnley, has been appointed as the North West's adviser to help town centre teams implement principles set out in the Portas Review.

Special advisers were selected in each of the English regions to work with the Town Teams created as a result of the government's response to the Mary Portas review of the High Street.

The news was announced by the Association of Town Centre Management which is helping to implement a £5.5m package of support, provided by Government, which includes cash of £10,000 for each team whose Member of Parliament applied, plus support from the ATCM.

Durkin is a former town centre manager for Bury and Burnley. She now runs her own consultancy, Place Shaper. She said: "The challenges we are now faced with in our town centres and High Streets is immense. Using my place management experience, I'm delighted to be working with the region's Town Teams as we look for opportunities to experiment, try new things and help our High Streets become destinations again, encouraging a rich mix of commercial, cultural and meeting places. The vision and strategy to achieve this is a key part of the process and I'm very much looking forward to the challenge."

More than 400 partnerships and town teams submitted video bids and submissions for Portas Pilots funding of £100,000 each. Eighteen were selected including, in the North West, Nelson , Stockport, Morecambe and Liverpool's Lodge Lane.

Additionally, Government is now giving £10,000 each to all the remaining 392 applicants to kick-start their Town Teams and get projects off the ground.

The advisers can also help existing Town Centre partnerships if they register themselves as a Town Team with the ATCM.The next major event aimed at all Town Teams will be a "World Café of Ideas" in Birmingham Town Hall on 24 October.

Toyubur Rahman, ATCM Town Team Project Manager, said: "The World Café event will be an one-day coming together of teams and advisors, with masterclass sessions, keynote talks, exhibitions and surgeries that town team partners can dip into and out of to learn the best approaches for their specific towns and locations, we want the coffee and conversations to flow all day."

It is a free event open to all Town Teams and details can be found at

Advisors in each region will also hold their own surgeries in conjunction with the ATCM regional meetings that are held four times a year throughout the country. This will allow a wider range of established and long standing town centre managers and others to share their knowledge and experience with new people who are striving to improve their towns.

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Nothing personal Lisa, but town centre advisers to advise other town centre advisers? Really? Bonfire of the quangos – I think not. After the regional advisers have set their offices up, with assistants and secretaries, surely not a lot of change out of £100,000.A lot of strategy,objectives and talk, confirmed by the "cafe" event.I really hope you do well, but the structure hardly seems lean or slick. Can we have a timetable for results please?

By ChesneyT

Hi Chesney – no offence taken. The advisers will work on a consultancy basis probably only a few days a month, as and when required to offer support via telephone, e-mail & occasional meetings, as well as 4 regional meetings/workshops to share best practice etc.So no offices or pa’s. We’ll be mentoring & supporting newly established ‘town teams’ with practical advice & solutions, but only if they request our help.The structure isn’t ideal – but its a start – so let’s run with it & fine tune it along the way. There’s a lot of momentum been started by local businesses through the Portas Bids – where else can they turn to for help? If things aren’t working I certainly won’t be shy about feeding my views back in to DCLG!

By Lisa Durkin