Rugby bids for Portas cash

By Dan Santy 24/04 Updated: 24/04 16:26

Buy photos » Rugby town centre.

RUGBY has applied to claim a share of a £1 million pot aimed at breathing new life into high streets as part of a scheme launched by retail guru Mary Portas.

The town has submitted an application to be one of 12 nationally to be granted 'Portas Pilot' status with the aim of turning around the country's 'unloved and unused' high streets.

Independent retailers and professionals, Rugby Borough Council and town centre company Rugby First have jointly applied to become a 'Portas Pilot' town in a bid to boost the retail sector.

Rugby is one of hundreds applying and has submitted a short video on the website Youtube promoting the town. The winners will be announced in mid May.

The promotional film highlights Rugby's claim as the world's only place to have given its name to an international sport.

It features a number of the town's independent business owners giving their thoughts and is centred around Rugby's existing Retail Startup scheme making cheap cash available for entrepreneurs looking to get their ideas off the ground in a time where bank loans are difficult to come by.

Borough council leader Craig Humphrey said he had hopes the scheme could help put Rugby at the centre of Warwickshire's retail market.

"This funding would be the catalyst to get new businesses and young entrepreneurs opening in Rugby," he said.

"We already have the Retail Startup scheme. This is something quite unique to Rugby and is something this pilot would allow us to build on."

Town centre boss Robin Richter, chairman of Rugby First, said he thought the model for the Retail Startup scheme could be rolled out to other towns across the country if it succeeds.

He said: "If it can work for us it can work anywhere. That's the good thing about our scheme for the rest of the UK.

"If we can bolt on this Portas Pilot money, it gives our project teeth and it will make it happen."

The Retail Startup scheme is designed to offer a complete package to start-up businesses. It is made up of rent discounts, legal and accountancy advice and low cost loans to help get new stores and firms up and running.

Visit www.youtube.com/user/RugbyBoroughCouncil to see Rugby's Portas Pilot video.

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