Search is on for the Mary Portas of Meon

Mary Portas
Mary Portas
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A TRIO of towns have teamed up to find their own Mary Portas.

Bishop’s Waltham, Wickham and Denmead are looking for a dynamic person to help keep their town centres vibrant and boost business.

The new market towns’ development officer will create action plans for each of the three rural towns in the Winchester district, with tasks ranging from events management, fundraising and marketing to setting up new business networks and raising customer service standards.

Last year, Bishop’s Waltham missed out on becoming a Portas Pilot – a scheme where a dozen towns were picked to receive £100,000 and backing from the TV business guru.

But, with the backing of its MP George Hollingbery, the town received a grant of £10,000 and a package of support from the Association of Town Centre Managers to help sustain its High Street.

Tony Kippenberger, chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham town team, said: ‘The town team has plenty of ideas and plans and we now need someone dedicated to turning those ideas into action.

‘It will be someone who will have the time and energy to actually make things happen.

‘Somebody who will make a difference.’

Winchester City Council was able to match-fund the government grant and offered the opportunity of employing someone in the role to other rural market towns within the district.

The £19,600 post is funded by Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham parish councils as well as by Winchester City Council and the Department for Local Government and Communities Town Team Partners Fund for Bishop’s Waltham.

Mr Hollingbery, MP for the Meon Valley, added: ‘These rural market towns are great places to live, work and visit and I’m looking forward to meeting the new market towns’ development officer who will help keep them vibrant and attractive.’

The post is for 30 hours a week and will suit someone with communication and negotiation skills, experience of working with and for the business community, an innovative approach and plenty of energy.

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