Boffin helps put Otley in with a chance of £100,000 in Mary Portas scheme

Wharfedale Observer: Mary Portas is looking for 12 towns to becaome Portas Pilots - and Otley wants to be one of them Mary Portas is looking for 12 towns to becaome Portas Pilots - and Otley wants to be one of them

Otley’s master furniture maker Thomas Chippendale and TV boffin Marty Jopson are among names checked in a new film that has been launched to help win £100,000 for the town.

Now on YouTube, the promotional video also features business and civic leaders, talking about their pride in the town, and how it could be improved.

The film has been produced by Mike Pearson in support of Otley Town Partnership’s bid for Otley to become one of 12 Portas Pilots.

Under the Government scheme, named after retail expert Mary Portas, each successful town will secure up to £100,000 to form teams dedicated to revitalising their high streets.

The video begins atop Otley Chevin, with town partnership chairman Peter Heald enjoying the view, then cuts to Otley-based TV presenter and scientist Marty Jopson, who praises the town for having amazing community spirit, but adds: “It could be an even better place”.

Market traders talk about their experience, before Mr Heald says re-energising the markets, by increasing the amount of local produce sold there, is “part of the experience we’re trying to bring back to Otley”.

He also highlights Otley’s wealth of smaller, independent businesses, including its “three cracking, and award-winning, butchers”.

The centrepiece of the video takes place at the partnership’s Farmers Market in Market Place, where shoppers join in a mass shout, directed straight to camera, calling: “Please give us the money, Mary”.

Several ideas for improving the town are also discussed.

Mr Jopson, noting that many other places have them, pours scorn on the idea that safety fears have stopped rowing boats from being available to rent out on the River Wharfe.

He said: “We’re told health and safety won’t let us have them but I don’t believe that – why can’t Yorkshire punters go messing about on the water?”

And business owners talk about re-organising things so that charity shops are based together in a dedicated street, leaving “prime retail sites” for commercial stores.

Mr Barber, meanwhile, stresses the need for more industrial space to support new businesses.

He said: “It is imperative that we get small industrial units. We need to create that mini-economy, and those people will then spend money in the town.”

The film also talks about some of Otley’s hidden success stories, like Mckendrick Multimedia, which is running a thriving hi-tech business providing interactive displays at 17 different airports controlled “by the flick of a switch in Otley”.

The partnership is hoping the video will both publicise its bid and promote Otley.

It is also intended to encourage debate, and the action pauses at several places to encourage viewers to tweet their comments or scan in a quick response code on their mobile phone.

The film, which boasts the soundtrack song What a Life in Otley! sung by Year 5 pupils at the Whartons Primary School, can be viewed by searching for “Portas Pilot bid” on YouTube.

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