D-day looms in Heanor bid

TOMORROW is deadline day for the bid to see Heanor included as one of 12 ‘Mary Portas Pilot towns’.

This week as part of The News’ campaign to see Heanor high street return to its best - we take a look at how the recently formed Town Team is pitching for Heanor to be included in the Government scheme.

The dozen winning towns will be the first to trial a business model by retail guru Mary Portas – as the next part of a review she conducted on the ailing state of the British high street.

The star of Channel Four’s Mary Queen of Shops is proposing among other things, to free up town centre parking and to boost market days in the pilot places.

Towns will also get their hands on a £100,000 grant to spend on improvements and will receive help from Whitehall.

Heanor’s Town Team, consisting of six key players in the area, submitted its bid this week.

Candidates must show how they intend to spend the grant and put forward a plea as to why their town should be included.

Team member, Amber Valley Borough and Derbyshire county councillor Kevin Parkinson says the £100,000 could be spent on improving broadband connections, a shuttle bus running shoppers from the Tesco area to the Market Place and smartening up the town centre.

Heanor will go head-to-head with nearby Matlock and Uttoxeter, among hundreds of other towns, for a spot on the pilot - but Cllr Parkinson is confident of Heanor’s chances.

“Heanor stands a good chance,” he said. “Because it’s different to Uttoxeter and Matlock – they are much larger ancient towns. If I was on the awarding panel, I would give it to Heanor!”

Each bidding town has been required to submit a short film about why they should claim their share of the £1 million in Government funding.

Ripley-based filmmaker Chris Atkinson was tasked with recording the piece for the judging panel.

He said: “We interviewed some shop keepers and local businesses.

“The aim is to show people’s passion and love for the town and potential Heanor has got.”

The Portas Pilot bid is the latest in nine moths of hard work put in by key players in the town to see fortunes improved in Heanor.

A decision on whether the town will be included as a Portas Pilot is expected by the end of April.