Oakham and Uppingham miss out in first round of Portas Pilot bids

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A JOINT bid by Oakham and Uppingham to become Portas Pilot towns has missed out on the first round of funding.

Local government minister Grant Shapps announced the 12 winning bids this morning and said more than 370 towns had applied for the cash.

A second round of bidding has been announced and 15 more projects will be selected later in the year.

The pilot scheme was set up following a review into Britain's high streets carried out by retail expert Mary Portas for the Government. She will support the pilot towns and they will have access to Government advice, as well as sharing a £1.2m pot to help implement their plans to rejuvenate their towns.

Oakham and Uppingham had applied for £84,000. Their plan included better signage on key routes around the area and at Rutland Water to divert people to the towns, a bus service from the county's military bases to the towns, heritage routes, energy audits for businesses, a loyalty card for shoppers, better use of the market places for events and free start-up stalls at farmers' markets.

The winners were Bedford; Croydon; Dartford; Bedminster, Bristol; Liskeard, Cornwall; Margate, Kent; Market Rasen; Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland; Stockport; Stockton on Tees; and Wolverhampton.

Bids do not need to be resubmitted for the next round but applicants can adapt and resubmit them by June 30.