Mary zooms in

TV star checks on in­vest­ment

Stockport Times West - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX SCAPENS alex.scapens@men­ @AlexS­capen­sMEN

MARY Por­tas re­turned to Stock­port and warned the coun­cil they need to support ef­forts to re­ju­ve­nate the town cen­tre.

The TV re­tail queen vis­ited last week to see how money from the Por­tas Pi­lot scheme had been spent and what im­pact it was hav­ing.

She called in at the Seven Miles Out arts cen­tre, on Stock­port Mar­ket Place, which is one of the projects her £100,000 has helped fund.

Joe Bar­ratt, 21, from the cen­tre and a key mem­ber of the Por­tas Pi­lot bid team, was among those to chat to her. He said: “Mary felt the money had been in­vested well to cre­ate an en­ergy in the town.

“She was re­ally sup­port­ive and felt we were head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

“Her mes­sage to the coun­cil was you need to support events once the Por­tas money runs out so its im­pact is not lost.

“She is in­ter­ested in the long term vi­sion for the area and felt its po­ten­tial was be­gin­ning to be re­alised.”

The £100,000 has been sup­ple­mented by the same amount from the coun­cil and another £100,000 from the High Street In­no­va­tion Fund.

Other ways it has been spent in­clude mov­ing the Vin­tage Vil­lage to its own unit and turn­ing it from a monthly event to open­ing most days, the Fringe Fes­ti­val and a shop front grant scheme.

But Joe says the most im­por­tant ex­pen­di­ture has been to re­brand part of the cen­tre as Stock­port Old Town and cre­ate an ac­com­pa­ny­ing web­site.

Most of the work has been done around the mar­ket and next for at­ten­tion will be the Un­der­banks area.

The coun­cil will stump up £7.7m to help ren­o­vate build­ings to en­cour­age oc­cu­pancy.

Mary, 54, first vis­ited in Jan­uary 2013 and was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the Teenage Mar­ket, which Joe runs with his brother Tom.

Mary Por­tas warned Stock­port Coun­cil

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