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Highlighting high street’s community value

Highlighting high street’s community value
Article date: 05 Mar 2014

Neil relishes his hands-on role in initiative to regenerate town’s high street

Following a review into town centres, by Mary Portas, the pilot scheme headed by the retail guru, called ‘Portas Pilots’, looked into regenerating troubled high streets.

Bedford is now leading the way for town centres across the country, many of which have seen a decline in the high street, as recession and austerity measures have hit hard.

Ms Portas visited Bedford in November to present grants to two new town-centre businesses and see for herself how the town is reviving under the Portas
Pilots scheme.

During her visit to the town, she stopped off from her high-street walkabout at The Banker’s Draft. Neil is a member of the committee, chaired by BedfordBID (Business
Improvement District), which assesses applications for grants for business startups. He attends monthly meetings and is part of the decision-making process for
improvements to the area.

Neil said: As a company, Wetherspoon is a ‘high-street champion for Bedford’ and my role is to work with the town committee, provide support and help to achieve positive change in the town. I was one of the representatives from the high-street regeneration project to meet Prince Charles, on his visit to Bedfordshire in December. He was in Bedford touring the newly opened museum and art gallery, The Higgins Bedford, and was keen to meet members of the committee. He is very interested in what is going on in places like Bedford and how big businesses are playing their part in
helping the high street.

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