By Claire West

Following Saturday's announcement by Local Government Minister Grant Shapps, the Association of Town Centre Management would like to congratulate the 12 Town Teams which have been named as Portas Pilots.

Since the announcement of the Pilot scheme and the opening of the bidding round there have been intense periods of activity in over 350 areas across the country with a renewed vigour and focus on the national and local pride in our towns and cities.

During this time the ATCM has established with the Department of Communities and Local Government the “National Town Team,” working with other key organisations from the public and private sector to provide information and support to the first round winners and other applicants alike.

A range of support will be available from a number of sources and will enable everyone to share ideas and successes which can be tailored for use elsewhere.

The ATCM has also been working with the DCLG to provide support, guidance and best practice examples via a series of workshops which have taken place around the country. The final workshop, aimed at 2nd round applicants, takes place this Thursday in Bradford (see for details).

Kim Gilmour of WV One, Wolverhampton’s City Centre Company, commented, "I attended one of the earlier workshops in Bolton and came away with pages of notes.

“It was these which kept us focused throughout the bid development process. We would like to thank ATCM, with whom we work closely, for supporting these workshops which have proved invaluable to Wolverhampton.We have been clear throughout the bidding timetable that the process is as important if not more so than the funding.”

Martin Blackwell, Chief Executive at ATCM, said, " The work which has gone into bidding is phenomenal, with communities across the country coming together to get behind their towns and high streets. My message to those areas which have not been successful this time is not to be disheartened and certainly don’t shelve what you have done since February."

The ATCM is keen to work with all applicants to build on what they have done already and over the next few months will:

• Run a further workshop prior to the closing date of 30 June;
• Provide support through a bank of experts and supporters who have offered to help, drawn from our membership;
• Co-ordinate the ‘First Impressions’ exercise providing an objective view of your area from other town centre management professionals.

A number of areas will have received the High Street Innovation Fund grants and may be taking their Portas plans forward using that funding. If so they will have the opportunity to talk about that at the first meeting of our High Street 100 Group which will meet for the first time at the end of June.