Bishop’s Waltham launches Town Team for a bright new future

Press Release: 26/10/2012

This week Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Housing, is announcing that Bishop’s Waltham in Hampshire is one of 326 towns to be awarded a £10,000 grant towards revitalising their High Streets.

Last year the Government commissioned Mary Portas (aka Mary Queen of Shops) to produce a report on the state of the UK’s high streets, and the resulting ‘Portas Review’ gave rise to a set of recommendations to improve the vibrancy and resilience of our town centres. One recommendation was to identify a number of towns prepared to put into place ‘Town Teams’ – as suggested by Mary Portas – to deliver an agreed action plan to support and develop their high streets. The government then decided to offer £100k each to 12 ‘Portas Pilots’ across the country to help fund these action plans.

The self-reliant community of Bishop’s Waltham, with its high retail occupancy rates and its excellent range of independent shops, narrowly missed out on becoming a Portas Pilot but, with the backing of its MP George Hollingbery, the town will now receive a grant of £10,000 and a package of support from the Association of Town Centre Mangers to help sustain its High Street.

The newly-formed Bishop’s Waltham Town Team’s mission is to ‘sustain and future-proof the existing High Street, whilst developing new markets, uses and businesses for it’. It is made up of representatives from Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council, Bishop’s Waltham Society, Bishop’s Waltham Chamber of Trade, Bishop’s Waltham in Bloom and Winchester City Council.

Tony Kippenberger, Chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Society and the new Town Team, said:

Although it was disappointing not to win our initial bids for Portas funding, this grant is great news for Bishop’s Waltham and means that the Town Team can now get down to work on a programme of activities to bring people to the town in increasing numbers. We want to promote our hidden asset, the Bishop’s Palace, as well as our great mix of local shops on the high street.

Cllr Robert Humby, Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council, added:

Following community consultation earlier in the year, it was felt that the grant could best be used in employing a Town Centre Manager to help co-ordinate events and marketing activities. Whilst the grant is not enough on its own, it could help to secure contributions from other organisations. As Portfolio Holder for the Economy, I am hoping that the City Council will match fund the grant, and I know the Parish Council is also discussing the possibility.

MP George Hollingbery added:

This is great news for Bishop's Waltham and I'm sure the money will be put to good use. Such a unique town centre should get as much help as possible to remain commercially vibrant and continue to attract both local people and visitors. This cash can only help.

The Town Team would like to hear from other councils who would consider jointly funding a Town Centre Manager to be shared with Bishop's Waltham. Please contact Alison Woods at Winchester City Council (awoods@winchester.gov.uk) if you would like to explore this possibility.