Portas pilot workshop in Bolton

Towns planning to bid to become Portas Pilots, an initiative to rejuvenate flagging high streets, are being given the opportunity to take part free workshops being held over the next two weeks across the UK.

The Government is looking to fund about 12 pilots, each receiving a share of £1m. The money will be awarded to partnerships that demonstrate the best fit with the selection criteria.

Half-day workshops will be held in London, Solihull, Bristol and Bolton, organised by the Association of Town Centre Management.

The workshop in Bolton is due to take place on 12 March.

The ATCM was commissioned by the Department of Communities & Local Government to provide insights into the background of the Portas Review, the Government's thinking, essential elements of making a good application and tips on public relations and social media as well as ideas for maintaining momentum.

Martin Blackwell, chief executive of the ATCM, said: "This is a great opportunity not just to make sure that the best possible applications are submitted, but to use the occasion to meet others who are passionate about their high street and learn from each other."

Grant Shapps, housing and planning minister, said: "In the face of stiff competition from Internet shopping and out-of-town shopping centres, it's clear that our high streets need to offer something new if they're to survive.

"That's why I've urgently implemented two of the most important recommendations from Mary Portas's review, to find 12 Portas Pilot areas that can use their enthusiasm, energy and imagination to put into practice their innovative ideas for breathing new life into their town centres.

"I would like to thank the Association of Town Centre Management for agreeing to host these workshops, which I hope will help town teams across the country put pen to paper, and their ideas on film, and show me their ambitions for reinvigorating their areas."

The pilot application process is open until 30 March.

To apply for a free place on a workshop go to the ATCM website www.atcm.org To find out more about the Town Team pilots – 'Portas pilots' see http://www.communities.gov.uk/regeneration/economicgrowth/townteams/

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