Critics of Pendle retail guru Mary Portas claim schemes are 'too nostalgic' (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Critics of Pendle retail guru Mary Portas claim schemes are 'too nostalgic'
RETAIL guru Mary Portas defended her efforts to regenerate Britain’s high streets, including in Pendle and Hyndburn, when she appeared before MPs.
She told them she had ‘taken a battering’ from critics.
The businesswoman chose Nelson as one of her 12 ‘Portas Pilot’ towns to get £100,000 last year and has backed bids to revive Accrington and Oswaldtwistle shopping centres.
Appearing before the Communities and Local Government Committee, Ms Portas said sometimes she wished she had not put her name to the drive to boost 27 town centres.
She said it had put the issue on the public agenda and helped ‘create a sense of civic pride’.
Critics of the review said it was too ‘nostalgic’.
Ms Portas said high streets had been ‘in decline’ for 20 years and reversing it would take time. She said her report had been a ‘catalyst for change’ and kick-started ‘incredible work’. She said she was committed to the future of high streets and denied the report – for which she was not paid – was to boost her profile, adding: “I have taken a huge battering for work I have done for nothing. I am not the saviour of the High Street. I can not do this on my own.
“I am a champion of it.”
Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk, a former Darwen councillor, said things had ‘got worse’ since the review, with more empty shops.
Oswaldtwistle Town Team received £1,000 of Portas funding and the Campaign for Accrington Town Centre’s Heart has Ms Portas’ backing.
Pendle borough’s assistant economic development officer Paul Collins said: “The Portas Pilot has been fantastic for Nelson. It’s really put the town in the spotlight.
“It’s helped us to make a big difference by bringing empty shops back into use and been the catalyst for many of our town centre events.
“We’ve made some strong links not only with our independent shops but with the high street chains too. It means we can get buy-in on a national level and hopefully attract more businesses.”
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