Town team vows continued support

THE newly-formed Wisbech Town Team has pledged to carry on its fight to help to regenerate Wisbech town centre, even if its bid to become one of Mary Portas’s pilot schemes isn’t successful.

The pledge has come after the team met on Friday for the second time.

Around 40 people attended Wisbech Council Chamber this time including a few new faces but still no representatives from the town’s Asian, Chinese or Eastern European communities.

The Team has now evolved its early ideas to encompass a far more wide-ranging set of initiatives.

Realising that it is impractical to focus effort on specific buildings at this stage, the Team has laid the foundations for a more flexible strategy based on three primary themes.

These are:

• Regeneration of the Market Place.

• Ensuring the use, maintenance and regeneration of derelict buildings.

• The appointment of a town centre manager and the creation of new events, as well as the improved coordination, promotion and exploitation of established events.

The Team decided that while the Portas Pilots bid is its primary focus in the short term – as the final bid deadline is March 30 – it will continue beyond the date and, regardless of the outcome of the bid, will make every effort to achieve its aims.

Several key threads were identified for both the Portas bid and the Team’s ongoing vision for Wisbech.

These include the promotion of the town’s unique heritage as a Georgian market town, as well as the potential for a rich and varied multi-cultural society.

In addition to the Portas award, the team is investigating funding possibilities from other sources, including heritage organisations and the National Lottery.

The Team has agreed that March businesswoman Jaqui Fairfax will remain as lead at least until the Portas bid has been finalised.

Then leadership will revert to a Team member resident in Wisbech and that individual will take the Team forward in co-operation with local organisations and authorities.

The Town Team comprises residents, traders, business people and councillors.

It was formed to make a bid for a share in the £1,000,000 available to improve the town centres of 12 towns under the Portas Pilots initiative.

It has since broadened the scope of its aims and is seeking to continue its work to improve the town regardless of the outcome of the Portas bid.

For the time being, the team can be contacted c/o Wisbech Town Council, North Brink or by e-mail through wisbechtc@aol.com

What is the Portas Pilots? In the wake of the Portas Review, Mary Portas and Grant Shapps MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, are leading the search for pilot high street regeneration projects through the Town Team concept.

Portas Pilots is looking to support 12 projects pilots with funding of up to £100,000 for each, depending on the amount sought by and assessment of individual bids.

They will be awarded to partnerships in England that demonstrate the best fit with the selection criteria.

• The next Wisbech Town Team meeting is the first week in March.