Unsuccessful Portas Pilot applications will not deter community groups in Brandon and Thetford

PUBLISHED: 10:24 30 May 2012

Mary 'Queen of Shops' Portas

Mary 'Queen of Shops' Portas

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Communities in Thetford and Brandon, which each unsuccessfully bid for a cash injection of £100,000, have vowed to continue to bring their towns back to life.

None of those in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire which applied for the funding under a scheme led by retail guru Mary Portas, designed to help flailing high streets across the country, was successful.

But the news has not dampened the spirits of those who came together to submit the bids, with both Thetford and Brandon hopeful they may be successful in a second round of funding later this year.

In Thetford, the bid came from a new social enterprise group called the School of Radical Thought in Thetford (Sort It), which intends to buy town centre buildings by selling shares to its members, run apprenticeships and training schemes, promote the town to the outside world and even held its first night market yesterday.

Sort It director, Corinne Fulford, said: “I’m disappointed in one way but I said right from the beginning it’s in addition to what we’re doing. It would have been lovely, and I have high hopes for the second round, but it’s not going to stop us doing what we’re doing. The experience has been extremely positive and the support of the public which has come just from making the application has had a far-reaching effect.”

In Brandon, officials said community links had been strengthened and Forest Heath District Council portfolio holder for economic development and tourism, David Bowman, said: “Naturally we’re disappointed at being unsuccessful in round one but we’re hopeful for round two.

“We’ve had some great support from traders in Brandon, so we’ll definitely continue to work with shops, businesses and the community to go forward with the project.”

Communities minister Grant Shapps said 15 additional pilots were set to be unveiled at the end of July.

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