Anger over ‘false’ claims town shops are closing

“Inaccurate” data has put Market Rasen at the centre of a national outcry over the government’s £1.2m ‘Portas Pilot’ scheme.

Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG) has hit out at data which says the town has seen the biggest rise in empty shops of all 12 places to be awarded ‘Portas Pilot’ funding a year ago.

MR BIG thinks this is rubbish and says the town now actually has fewer empty shops.

MR BIG says the data has listed several ‘relocations’ as ‘closures’ and has failed to recognise many store openings.

New stores not on the list include the Portas Pilot-funded farm shop Greens of Lincolnshire and arts and crafts outlet Big Corner Shop.

MR BIG director Sarah Lamballe was part of the team that helped the town win its £100,000 share of the fund to revitalise high streets - and she is furious.

She said: “It’s just wrong, plain wrong.

“It’s so crushing for all of our volunteers who have done such good work.”

The research, done by The Local Data Company for BBC Radio 4, says 18 shops have closed in Market Rasen between March 2012 and the same month this year.

Sarah says the actual figure is just four: PG’s Nuts, The Ironing Board, Scoops and Curtain Creations.

And MR BIG is annoyed the data goes back to March 2012 - the town did not receive any money until September 2012.

According to the data, only two Pilot towns have fewer empty shops than a year ago.

MR BIG director Sara Scott said: “The statistics are a misrepresentation of the situation in our town.

“While other Pilot towns have struggled with red-tape, we have forged ahead to make positive change.

“So much so that our good work has been recognised with an award in the last month that sees us as one of only seven high streets recognised for innovation.”