RETAILERS, businessmen and members of the local authority in Brackley hope to ‘put the market back in the market town’ after submitting their bid for a share of the £1 million Mary Portas Pilot Town fund.
And the group behind the bid are about to re-invent the Saturday Farmers Market.
The original farmers market on the Piazza was suspended last year due to a falling number of stall holders, but when it is re-launched in the Market House Courtyard on April 21, it will be host to a wide range of local producers.
Although it does not form part of bid town and district councillor Peter Rawlinson said the Farmers Market showed the town was not prepared to ‘let the grass grow under its feet’, and that they had a plan which would push the town forward, regardless of success in the bid.
It is believed around 400 towns up and down the country made last Friday’s deadline for bids to become one of 12 Mary Portas pilot towns.
The scheme was launched after the Government accepted the recommendations of the Mary Portas High Street review, commissioned by David Cameron. The project now has the backing of Local Government minister Grant Shapps who hopes it will breath new life into ‘unloved and unused’ high streets.
Successful towns will get a share of the cash for a Town Team designed to promote their town centres. Winners would also receive advice from the minister and high street guru Mary Portas.
Bidders have to show they will be able to make a real difference within their communities and that they have the support from the whole community.
Mr Rawlinson is a member of Brackley Town Council, South Northants District Council. He also lives and manages a business in Market Place.
He said a wide range of people had pulled the bid together in a short time frame and that it included the catchline ‘putting the market back in market town.’
Others behind the Brackley bid are Jan Dean of the Brackley Information Bureau and Brackley Community Development Trust, Alan Smith at Global Mapping, business coach and Brackley town councillor Kath Bonner Dunham, Lisa Saffrey of the Courtyard Coffee House, and Harriet Singleton of Ptolemy Toys.
Mr Rawlinson said: “Basically it is an opportunity to get some additional funding to make a real difference to the town. I think people have really got behind it.
“Obviously we would like to get wider support in the community and that will be one of our first objectives.”
The main focus of the Brackley bid is improving the street scene by removing the blight of empty shop units and solving parking issues.
Mr Rawlinson added: “There is a load more we could do but we wanted to make sure we did something that was achievable and that makes a lasting difference, rather than doing part of something.
“Brackley has a lot going for it. It is a nice town with good community spirit. We have lots of festivals and events.
“But like every high street we are suffering from the change in retail patterns and therefore need to bring something extra to the high street to bring people back.”
Alan Smith said the bid demonstrated that they had the will to make things happen and added: “This epitomises the community spirit that exists in Brackley.
“People don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen, they get on with it and make things work.”
A short video supporting the Brackley bid is due to be posted online.