Oakham and Uppingham to reapply for £84,000 Portas Pilot grant despite missing out on first round of funding

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TWO towns are hopeful of securing £84,000 to revamp their high streets despite missing out on the first round of funding.

Oakham and Uppingham applied for a Government grant to improve shopping options and become one of the 12 pilot towns suggested by TV retail expert Mary Portas.

The winning bids were announced on Saturday but Oakham and Uppingham were overlooked in favour of Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Bedminster, Liskeard, Margate, Market Rasen, Nelson, Newbiggin by the Sea, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton.

The bid was spearheaded by the Oakham and Uppingham town partnerships, which joined together as the Rutland Towns Team.

The group now plans to submit an improved bid and hopes to be one of 15 selected for the second round of funding.

Oakham Town Partnership chairman and mayor of Oakham, Coun Alf Dewis, said: “As a team we want to have a look at it and see whether we need to tweak the bid.

“The team has reformed and is slightly disappointed but we are quite confident we will be picked in the next round.

“Oakham and Uppingham are unique because we are bidding as the market towns of Rutland and I don’t see any other team doing something similar.

“Hopefully in the next round we will be successful but we have quite a lot of work to do.”

The bid team wants to see the two towns become key hubs within Rutland, connected both to each other and to Rutland Water.

They would use the money to attract another supermarket to Oakham, encourage more independent traders into the town centres and improve transport links with the two military bases in Rutland to encourage families to shop in the towns.

The team met on Wednesday to discuss its options for a revised bid.

Uppingham Town Partnership chairman Marc Oxley said: “We are hoping that by looking at some of the other successful towns we can see why they won and we didn’t.

“We will also have more time to look at the bid. We didn’t have as much as we would have liked before.

“We put together a very good package and I believe that a joint bid will be of benefit to the whole county.”

Mr Oxley thinks working on the bid has brought the two towns together.

He added: “If all else fails we have built strong links between Oakham and Uppingham.”

A revised bid must be submitted by the end of June.

To watch the team’s original video visit www.youtube.com/user/OakhamTownPartners