Now the work for Market Rasen’s Portas Pilot plan begins...

WINNING Portas pilot funding has been an exciting milestone in Market Rasen’s history – and it is all thanks to a group called MR BIG.

Market Rasen Business Improvement Group submitted the application for funding – its plan is full of innovative ideas about how a ‘mentoring’ scheme will be put in place for new businesses to learn how to trade on the market and work their way up to a high street store.

Shops will be encouraged to open stalls and MR BIG plans to re-instate the market at the centre of the town’s community as well as its retail experience. Town teams will advertise free parking and revitalise the market with stallholder demonstrations.

All winning bids were selected for their strong leadership, commitment, potential for improvement and innovative ideas.

Founding member of MR BIG and local business woman Sarah Lamballe said: “We’re absolutely over the moon that all of our hard work has paid off.

“We’ve managed to turn around a general attitude of apathy, into some really strong and positive belief that our town can be re-invigorated. Securing the funding really is the icing on the cake.”

WLDC councillor for Market Rasen and town councillor Ken Bridger said: “This is like a fairytale for Market Rasen – it’s a new chapter for the town.”

MR BIG has had letters of congratulations from local government minister Grant Shapps and Mary Portas – who was commissioned by the government to carry out a review into high streets.

And the Department for Communities and Local Government has been in touch with the group to set up a meeting about how to move forward with the project.

MP Edward Leigh said: “Very few towns in England have been chosen, but it’s not really the funding that’s important so much as people in Market Rasen coming together in the right spirit of things to rejuvenate a market town.

“This news is very good for Market Rasen and I have every confidence those involved in this endeavour will succeed in their efforts.”

Market Rasen mayor Steve Bunney said: “We’re delighted the group has come together and taken a positive attitude to improving Market Rasen.

“They deserve all the glory and we will support them in any way we can.”

A second round of the competition will see 15 more town centres benefit from the scheme later this year.