VIDEO: Oakham and Uppingham bid to be part of Mary Portas scheme

TWO towns have joined forces to bid for £84,000 to revive their flagging high streets.

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

From left, Oakham Town Partnership treasurer John Nowell, Uppingham Town Partnership chairman Marc Oxley, Oakham Town Partnership intern Will Nowell and Oakham Town Partnership chairman Derek Bilby.

From left, Oakham Town Partnership treasurer John Nowell, Uppingham Town Partnership chairman Marc Oxley, Oakham Town Partnership intern Will Nowell and Oakham Town Partnership chairman Derek Bilby.

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

Uppingham partnership chairman Marc Oxley said: “If successful, it will help strengthen the county’s infrastructure, ensuring the banks, post offices and other essential services will remain at the heart of the town centres.

“If we are not successful, we have shown that by joining forces we are better placed to bring about change and I look forward to working with the Oakham Town Partnership on similar projects in the future.”

Oakham Town Partnership chairman and Oakham town councillor Alf Dewis said: “The joint bid submitted by Oakham and Uppingham town partnerships was based on the fact that the two towns in the smallest county have a unique flavour – a flavour that most residents wish to preserve and enhance to meet the challenges of the future.”

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.

They also want to improve signage to attract more tourists from Rutland Water, pilot a cycle route for a “Collect Your Own Breakfast” scheme involving farms and retailers, further develop heritage trails, offer start-up stalls and extend the number of stalls on the monthly Oakham Farmers Market.

Finally, the team wants to promote and launch a Rutland Loyalty Card, use marketplaces for evening and weekend events, encourage transferable parking tickets between the two towns and Rutland Water and promote Sunday morning events to precede Oakham Town Council’s Band Concerts in the afternoon.

The bid was submitted last week and the towns will know if it has been successful in May.