MP bids for £10,000 high street revamp

Ripon MP Julian Smith
Ripon MP Julian Smith

Ripon MP Julian Smith is supporting the city’s bid to become a Town Team Partner, which should bring £10,000 of Government money to Ripon’s high street.

Ripon was one of over 400 towns and cities to apply for the Mary Portas high street revamp scheme but missed out on a share of the £1.2million cash fund in May.

Mr Smith has vowed to find another way of supporting Ripon’s shops by giving the go ahead to the Town Team scheme.

“I called for Ministers to ensure more towns and cities benefited from the review of high streets by Mary Portas,” said Mr Smith, “so I am pleased they have given this opportunity to every place that applied to be a Portas Pilot.

“Even though Ripon’s bid was unsuccessful, becoming a Town Team should release £10,000 worth of funding which I hope will be a catalyst to improving aspects of the city centre.”

The Department for Community and Local Government launched the Town Team scheme following a review of the country’s high streets by retail guru Mary Portas.

The Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership plans to use the money to improve the appearance of Ripon’s city centre and work to develop the market.

The proposal to form a Town Team in Ripon gained widespread support across the city, with Ripon Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Ripon Retail Forum, Ripon Ring, Ripon Civic Society, Ripon Council for Voluntary Services and Ripon Cathedral getting on board.

Mr Smith said: “Cities like Ripon should get as much support as they can. Ripon has so much to offer in its market square but there are still improvements that need to be made. This money should hopefully help to invest in a business plan for the future.

“I want to encourage all the different trading groups in the city to work closely together to make the most of our high street.”

Research earlier this year revealed that Ripon is failing to exploit the amount of trade that could be generated from tourists visiting some of the region’s most popular attractions which are located close to the city.

Conservative estimates have claimed 250,000 people visit the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey, Newby Hall and the Lightwater Valley amusement park each year – yet only 100,000 visitors actually make their way into Ripon city centre.

The Town Team offer has been made to all the 392 places that were unsuccessful in the Portas scheme.

In addition to the £10,000 grant, each town will be given support from the Association of Town Centre Management, which has over 20 years of experience in helping towns improve their prosperity.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps wrote to all MPs in Portas bid areas, encouraging them to show support for the Town Team initiative.

“I am determined that the remaining bidding teams are not forgotten,” said Mr Shapps.

Ripon entered a video bid for the Portas competition, including a three stranded plan to regenerate the city centre with a scheme for Lewis Carroll themed murals in the ginnels around the city’s market square.

Mr Smith said: “I had a tremendous response from the Portas bid and I have since lobbied the Government to consider more grants for the towns and cities that didn’t get a share of the money first time round.

“I am confident that we will have results.”