ATCM Chief Executive's Blog - Portas and all that…
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Portas and all that…
Thursday 05 April 2012
Last Friday saw a frenzy of activity as places scrambled to get their applications in on time. The process closed at midnight, by which time 285 valid applications were received. The judging is a mammoth task, already started by DCLG officials, including watching the You Tube clips. There are some great ones, I have to say. One of my favourites is from the small Devonshire village of Seaton. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAIg69VHT0U. What’s yours? Do send me you favourite (not your own!).
Results will be announced after the elections on 4th May. The criteria for judging will be Leadership, Commitment, Potential and Innovation. On the closing date a second round was immediately announced, with a further £1m available for 12 more pilots. The criteria will remain the same. I am delighted to tell you that ATCM has been asked by DCLG to bring the Portas Pilot workshops back. The first will be in Bradford on 30th May and a second, probably in London. We’ll let you know when booking opens. As the first 12 should have been announced by then it will be interesting to look at what makes a successful application! I met with representatives of Mary’s TV team today and they will be making a series charting their progress.
The announcement of a surprise £10m High Street Innovation Fund has caused some controversy. Forget the good news of a cash injection – is it fair? Local Data Company has cried foul because the data set used is all commercial and business property vacancy across a whole local authority. They would prefer, of course, the government to buy their data. However, while limited to shops, we think that their data is compromised because it uses a DCLG produced boundary for town centres approaching a decade old. A lot has changed since then! This produces inflated figures, seriously so for some places. We think the best measure is the ATCM/Springboard data set published in association with the BRC. This data is supplied locally, but could therefore be construed as not “independent”. I am sure there are lots of arguments for different data sets to be used – you can’t please all of the people all of the time!
ATCM has established a new network for the ‘HS100’, to network them, learn lessons that can be shared with all and do what we can to ensure that funding is focused on the High Street. We are grateful for the support of the LGA, which will be providing an online platform via the Knowledge Hub. If you are lucky enough to be in the 100 the cash will be paid direct to the authority as a grant by the end of the month.
Finally the X Fund, £1m to one place that has achieved great things. It a reward for achievement not a bid to do great things and will be announced next March.