Town centre’s plan for Portas Pilot bid

Aylesbury Launch Mary Portas town centre bid
Aylesbury Launch Mary Portas town centre bid

INDEPENDENT traders are being offered a new, free of charge chance to get their businesses up and running in the town centre.

The Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership has come up with a new initiative to support and encourage entrepreneurs as part of its bid to become a Portas Pilot.

TV retail guru Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas is running a nationwide competition alongside local government minister Grant Shapps, giving 12 winning towns a share of £1million to go towards improving its town centre.

The Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership has put forward a bid named ‘Retail Lift Off’ which would see independent traders and entrepreneurs supported in their retail ventures in town.

This will be achieved by offering six weeks of rent-free trading either on a market stall on any or all of the market days, a mobile barrow which may be used anywhere in the town centre, indoors or out, or in a public space or empty unit within Friars Square or Hale Leys shopping centres. On top of this, there will also be a network of free support set up for each trader, ranging from legal and financial advice to free marketing and retail advice.

Of all applicants who enter, eight will be chosen after a selection process of an application form and interviews.

The partnership will also provide each applicant with a ‘buddy’ – an experienced businessman who will help the entrepreneurs or traders to get through the selection process as a mentor and guide. The buddy will also continue to support their trader, should they be successful, as a helping hand through their business venture.

Aylesbury town centre manager, Diana Fawcett, said: “This scheme is all about creating opportunities for independent traders to operate in a sustainable manner.

“All the rates for the first six weeks will be free of charge, other than in the units where the traders will be expected to pay business rates as we need to know they are committed. After then, we will then be charging rates at a slowly increasing rate to break the traders in gently.

“We’re looking for a really good selection of businesses to start trading in the town.

“It will address a lot of problems, by filling up empty units, breathing life into the market and bringing a new unusual and outdoor shopping experience in the town centre.”

Details of the 12 winning Portas Pilot entrants will be announced at the end of May.