A SPECIALIST “town team” is being created to help reinvigorate Grays town centre and Thurrock Council is bidding to get Mary Portas to help.
Wednesday (7 March) evening’s meeting of the council’s cabinet supported the plan to bid for up to £100,000 government funding for the scheme and the input of £100,000 in “Section 106” money as well.
In 2011 Mary Portas — television’s Mary Queen of Shops — was asked by the government to conduct an independent review in to the state of High Streets across the country.
The Portas Review was published in December and contains 28 recommendations aimed at maintaining and strengthening the role of town centres including roles for central government, local government, business and communities.
One of the primary recommendations is to put in place Town Teams with a visionary, strategic, and strong operational management team.
In February the government issued the Portas Pilots Prospectus: an invitation to become a Town Team, inviting applications to pilot the approach.
The move was backed unanimously and speaking afterwards, Cllr Andy Smith, the portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “Most of us around that table were long=term residents of Thurrock, people who remember Grays High Street as it used to be.
“High Streets across the country have taken a bit of a beating over the past couple of decades and Grays is no exception — but that’s going to change.
“Yes we’re going to bid for this money, but more than that we think that a Grays Town Team working with current and future investors and taking advantage of new developments in the area such as the new campus will more than pay for itself in the long term, even the medium term.
“It’s all part of our Thurrock regeneration story. Creating a new ‘town centre’ style development at Lakeside will help Grays move forward in a different but complementary way.”