Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The facts behind the Market Rasen Portas Pilot scheme

Some of you may wonder why I'm writing about Market Rasen on my book blog. It's because it used to be my home town, and I hope soon to have a retail outlet for Sell the Pig in paperback through its Mr BIG Corner Shop.

In the ten years I lived near Market Rasen, at Stainton le Vale in the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB, it was, like many market towns throughout rural England, slowly dying the death. A Tesco on the edge of town was drawing footfall away from the high street, which was starting to look shabby and forlorn, with many boarded up business premises.

When Queen of Shops Mary Portas launched her Portas Pilot project to revive high streets, Market Rasen put in a very determined bid and became one of the first winners to be announced, against stiff competition from many other towns, often much bigger and with more clout.

A year on into the Portas Pilot project, the BBC did a round-up of progress, or lack of it, of the winning towns. Look North visited Market Rasen and, despite being given all the facts of its amazing success story by my colleague and very good personal friend Sarah Lamballe, they did a pretty effective hatchet job, painting a truly dire picture.

I'm so glad I am no longer a journalist. In my day, we were expected to present facts from both sides, with minimum embellishment. This was just an assassination attempt.

So here are the true facts of Market Rasen's success and regeneration. Read the Mr BIG (Market Rasen Business Improvement Group - mission statement "Crack on") blog and judge for yourself if this is a town in decline, or a truly outstanding effort by a bunch of dedicated volunteers who are determined to breathe life back into their town.

Read it, then leave a comment here, if you would be so kind.

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