Council in Portas Pilot bid to revive village high streets

By Steve Hayes 02/04 Updated: 10/04 12:47

Buy photos » Council business enterprise chief, Nancy Singleton, says smaller towns and villages need to be rescued from the shadow of Stratford in the bid video. (s)

FLAGGING high streets in the district could benefit from a slice of £1 million of Government funding for a pioneering new digital project to promote local businesses.

Stratford District Council and Coventry University are putting in a joint bid for a share of the cash under the Portas Pilot scheme, aimed at helping to boost struggling high street economies in towns and villages. 

If successful the funding would help to support a so-called 'E-Town Toolkit' pilot in Bidford and Studley which would then be rolled out to support other towns and larger villages across the district.

Like other towns bidding for the cash, the council and Coventry University have compiled a video bid.

In it Nancy Singleton, the council's business enterprise chief, says the scheme would revitalise town centres which currently live 'in the shadow of Stratford'.

"The Shakespeare brand brings economic benefits to the district but at the same time the daily reality is it is sucking revenue and footfall away from our smaller towns and villages," she said.

The scheme would focus on the online market with Coventry University's games institute developing software for a 3D virtual market, a mobile platform and a community portal for new businesses in a bid to reach more potential visitors.

Council business chief, Dave Webb, said the project could help sustain towns and villages.

He said: "We are very excited about this funding opportunity and if successful, the district council is committed both to delivering this project and to ensuring we do all that we can to support, develop and sustain the high streets of our towns and villages over the short and longer term."

And Tim Luft, the director of the Serious Games Institute, at Coventry University, who are developing the software, said: "The E-Town Toolkit brings to the forefront every day technologies which can add real value to our market towns and drive new footfall.

"We are very positive about the opportunity to work with the council and partners across the district to bring it to the public.

"We believe our bid brings well focused innovative action that could be used not only to support our immediate communities and their economy, but will provide a proof of concept that could be rolled out nationally to support business economies in urban, coastal and rural communities."

Successful applicants will be notified in May.

Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMqW1lwAdhg to watch the video bid.

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