Portas says pilot towns will fail without government action

Kasmira Jefford
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RETAIL expert and television presenter Mary Portas yesterday conceded that the chosen Portas Pilot towns would need more than funds to be revived and “could never truly succeed” without full government action.

Portas’ review to save ailing high streets published last year has helped to create 27 so-called Portas Pilots – areas that have received grants to help shopkeepers.

However, in a letter to the communities and local government select committee yesterday, she said: “No amount of money or energy can combat the fatal flaws in the system which I recommended government address in late 2011; business rates, parking controls, building usage, empty properties, and out-of-town planning.”

The letter came after Portas faced questions from the committee last week on the progress of her review.

She reiterated that any claims she had influenced the selection of the towns was “categorically untrue”.