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25 July 2012, 05:47
Another 15 town centres, including Braintree, are to be given extra cash for regeneration projects following a review by retail queen Mary Portas, local government minister Grant Shapps said today (Wednesday July 25th).
The second wave of "Portas pilots'' will entitle the beneficiaries to a share of £1.5 million to help improve their town centres.
Some 370 applications were made following a report by Portas into the state of the country's high streets.
Those not selected will be able to bid for a share of a £5.5 million pot for individual projects.
Mr Shapps said: "I'd like to congratulate the 15 town teams that, in the face of stiff competition, have been selected to be the next Portas Pilots.''
The 15 new pilot areas are: Ashford, Berwick, Braintree, Brighton, Hatfield, Royal Leamington Spa, Liverpool, the Waterloo area of central London, Forest Hill in south London, Tower Hamlets, Loughborough, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Rotherham and Tiverton.
Shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods said while it was good news about the 15 areas selected to take part in the pilot, there were "very serious questions'' about the hundreds of town centres who missed out in the scheme.
She said: "There are now a record 23,406 empty shops in town centres alone but ministers are still failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation.
"This Government's failed economic policy and double-dip recession made in Downing Street is clearly damaging high streets across the country and short-term schemes like this will not be enough to save them.''