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Otley still in with chance of winning Portas cash
Otley’s bid to win £100,000 of Government money to revitalise its town centre has failed – at least for now.
The town was not among the 12 first Portas Pilot areas that were announced by the Government on Monday.
Each of the towns that were picked will receive £100,000 and expert advice on how to re-invigorate their main shopping areas from retail guru Mary Portas.
But Otley’s dreams of piloting the scheme are not over yet, as Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has announced that the scheme has proven so popular he will announce a second round of 15 pilot areas before the end of July.
Otley Town Partnership director Steph Lee, who helped put the town’s bid together, said that gave some cause for hope. She said: “Obviously we are extremely disappointed as a lot of hard work went into the application, and we still have a small chance with the second wave to be announced in July.
“Leeds City Council has been awarded £100,000 as part of the Portas Plus money, and the town team has already put in an application for a share of this which would be used to fund a town manager.
“If we fail to secure this much smaller amount of money, we will still try and move forward with our ideas for Otley.
“On behalf of the town team we would like to thank the almost 3,000 people who have watched our video on YouTube – it has had the sixth highest viewing figures out of all the pilot bid towns’ videos – as well as the many businesses and employers who have sent letters of support.
“People can follow our progress and share their ideas by visiting facebook.com/otleytownteam.”
Fellow partnership director Lawrence Ross said: “We still have a chance to secure some funding, but whether we get more money or not we shall try, together with the town and city council, to advance a lot of the ideas we put forward in the bid.
“That includes things like changing parking in the town, so all council run car parks offer free two hour periods, helping to run the markets, and offering rate relief for start-up businesses.
“It just might take longer to do without the funding.”
Otley’s MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “While it is of course disappointing, given the strength of the bid, that Otley has not been named as one the first 12 towns, there is now a second round of the competition and, at the end of July, an additional 15 towns will be announced as Portas Pilots.
“So it is vital we continue to push the strengths of Otley’s bid in the second round, to give the town the best chance to be part of this exciting scheme.”
Otley’s bid includes creating more small industrial units in the town and extending the successful farmers market.
The video supporting the application can be viewed by searching for Otley Portas Pilot on YouTube.