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Dartford town centre applies to join Portas Pilot scheme

PUBLISHED: 17:22 02 April 2012

Dartford has applied to be one of 12 towns championed by retail expert Mary Portas

Dartford has applied to be one of 12 towns championed by retail expert Mary Portas

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Shop managers and politicians have joined forces to apply for help to give shops in Dartford a boost.

Dartford Town Centre Partnership has applied to be one of Portas Pilots in the scheme backed by retail expert Mary Portas.

The Portas Pilots scheme has been announced by shopping guru Mary Portas and Local Government minister Grant Shapps and £1 million is up for grabs for 12 towns to help turn around their high streets and give them a boost.

Mr Shapps said: “Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued. The internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.”

If it is successful the grant of £79,000 will be match funded by Dartford council to revitalise the high street and set up Dartford My Street.

The scheme will offer twenty £1,000 bursaries for entrepreneurs to start up new market stalls at the Thursday, Saturday or Sunday markets.

If successful it will also set up six new pop-up market stalls and set up a six-month Sunday market pilot with free parking on Sundays.

The partnership also wants to offer training in retail marketing and promotion, customer care, merchandising and window dressing and use a store to help mentor businesses.

And they will launch a new loyalty card scheme and App for Dartford My Street.

Bob Heasman from Hedley Dunk Accountants which is based in Bullace Lane was involved in putting together the plan.

He said: “This could be fantastic for Dartford, we’ve improved the Park, tackled crime and attracted inward investment to the town, improving the High Street will be the glue that joins it all together.”

And the manager of Orchards Shopping Centre Debbie Cary said: “Improving the High Street is crucial to our tenants and we’re fully committed to implementing a number of the Portas recommendations.”

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