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South Lakes MP Tim Farron is backing a bid to make Kendal among 12 towns being picked to take part in a new government-backed Mary Portas pilot scheme, which aims to help communities with struggling high streets.
Those chosen will get up to £100,000 in grants and first-hand advice from Mary, Queen of Shops. The MP has submitted a Parliamentary motion calling for Kendal to be one of the 12 pilot schemes.
Enterprise and retail groups together with local authority representatives will consider the challenges and opportunities offered by the pilot scheme under which up to £100,000 will be available from the government to invest in initiatives aimed at improving what a town centre has to offer.
The Department for Communities and Local Government agreed to the Portas Pilot scheme in response to the independent review into the future of the high street that Mary Portas carried out last year. Shops are facing stiff competition from internet shopping and out-of-town retail parks.
Figures released in February show that South Lakeland is bucking the trend when it comes to empty high street shops. But Tim believes more can be done to help local businesses. Nationally 14.5 per cent of shops on high streets are empty – but towns across South Lakeland are keeping well below this level, according to figures from South Lakeland District Council.
He said: “Bringing a Portas pilot to Kendal would be fantastic. I would provide us with investment, expert help and put us on the map. I’m backing the bid and keen to help Kendal Futures, Chamber of Trade and others to do whatever we can to bring one of the 12 schemes to the South Lakes.”